West Indies captain, Kraigg Brathwaite, is already focusing on getting a much better performance from the team in the second innings after a disastrous start to the series against South Africa saw them dismissed for 97 on the first day.

The West Indies had a day to forget at the crease, failing to get to triple digits in an innings for just the 19th time ever.  Jason Holder had the team’s high score with a mere 20 runs, with Brathwaite himself and opening partner Shai Hope adding the next best with 15 apiece.

The hosts were undone by the pace tandem of Lungi Ngidi, who claimed an impressive 5 for 19, and Anrich Nortje who took 4 for 35.  In response,  South Africa were 128 for 4 but Brathwaite was already thinking about the second innings.

“Obviously, South Africa bowled well and we didn’t bat well, so we have to make up for it in the second innings, it’s as simple as that,” Brathwaite said at the end of the day’s play.

“We played some loose shots, but it happens, everything won’t always be perfect as batsmen we played some balls we know we probably shouldn’t have played at, we should have left, but we know what we have to do in the second innings.”

Debutant West Indies fast bowler Jayden Seales insists looking to maintain consistency was critical to his success, on a day when his hat-trick spell provided a rare bright spot on a tough start against South Africa.

The 19-year-old Seales ended with figures of 34 for 3.  His fiery response proved critical in ensuring the tourist ended the day with some doubts in mind at 128 for 4, some 38 runs ahead, and in command of the Test match early, but things could have been much worse.

Earlier on, Lungi Ngidi claimed a jaw-dropping 5 for 19 and Anrich Nortje 4 for 35 as the two combined to bowl out the spell-struck West Indies for 97 in the first innings.  Following the dismissal of South Africa opener and captain Dean Elgar, by Kemar Roach, Seales fired back, his deliveries removing Aiden Markram, Keegan Petersen, and Kyle Verreynne.

“I just tried to remain as consistent as possible.  To try and create pressure and don’t try anything too different.  I do that and I get wickets,” Seales said following the day’s play.

Despite a difficult start for the West Indies, however, the young bowler believes the team remains in the game.

“I don’t think we are out of the game.  Today is just the first day, we didn’t bat as well as we wanted to but I think we pulled it back with the way that we bowled today.”

 

South Africa dismantled a sorry West Indies for 97 on day one of the first Test in St Lucia, before debutant Jayden Seales impressed in a late charge from the hosts.

Lungi Ngidi took his second Test five-wicket haul and Anrich Nortje got rid of four batsmen as the tourists' rampant pace attack left the Windies reeling on Thursday.

It brought up what was just West Indies' second sub-100 total in a Test since 2004.

However, it was not all doom and gloom for West Indies, as teenager Seales took 3-34 to restrict South Africa to 128-4 at stumps.

Sharp bowling from Kagiso Rabada had West Indies on the back foot early, setting the stage for Nortje (4-35) to clatter Shai Hope's off stump.

Nkrumah Bonner received a nasty blow to the helmet from the next delivery and though he was given the go-ahead to continue batting, making 10 runs, that contribution marked the end of his match. Bonner was replaced in the field by substitute Kieran Powell, who will stay involved for the remainder of the Test.

Windies captain Kraigg Braithwate was also bowled by Nortje as South Africa clicked through the gears, and ultimately it was his predecessor as skipper, Jason Holder, who finished as the highest-scorer with a measly 20.

Holder's was the last wicket to fall and was Ngidi's fifth of the innings, the paceman having gone for just 19 runs.

Down but not out, the Windies struck early in South Africa's reply – Dean Elgar going for a duck just five deliveries into his first innings as full-time Test captain.

Keegan Petersen (19) followed in the 10th over, Seales claiming the first wicket of his Test career when the South African debutant edged through to Holder.

But Aiden Markram was on hand to steady the ship, taking South Africa to within a few overs of stumps before succumbing to Seales on 60.

Seales, 19, had his third wicket of a brilliant spell before play was up, Kyle Verreynne slashing at a shorter delivery, with Joshua Da Silva's impressive catch at least giving South Africa some overnight food for thought.

NGIDI AND NORTJE PICK UP THE SLACK

For too long, South Africa have been heavily reliant on Rabada to lead their attack, but his fellow fast bowlers were on hand to deliver this time around.

Ngidi's post-lunch spell was blistering, with Nortje having done the legwork in the morning session. It marked some step up from the last time Ngidi played a Test, when he took 2-74 against Pakistan in April.

SUPER SEALES SHINES

Perhaps the Windies figured they had little to lose, given their dismal first innings, but Seales offered a glimmer of hope.

He bowled with variety and plenty of pace. If the Windies are to get anything from this match, they may need a debut five-for from the teenager, and for it to come quickly on day two.

Lungi Ngidi and Anrich Nortje took nine wickets between them as South Africa bowled the West Indies out for 97 shortly after lunch on the opening day of first Betway Test at the Darren Sammy Cricket Stadium in St Lucia.

After West Indies won the toss and chose to bat on a grassy pitch, Ngidi playing in his 10th Test match took 5-19 as he tore through the West Indies middle-order that was left exposed after Nortje (4-35) claimed the wickets of both openers – Shai Hope and Kraigg Brathwaite, who each made 15.

Kagiso Rabada removed Nkrumah Bonner for 10 and Nortje took the wicket of Kyle Mayers for 1 to leave the home side 48 for 4 at lunch.

On the resumption, South Africa wrapped up the rest of the West Indies batting as only Jason Holder, 20, and Rahkeem Cornwall, 13, provided any resistance to the accurate South African attack.

The West Indies troubles were compounded by news that Bonner, who was struck on the helmet, the first ball he faced bowled by Nortje, has suffered a concussion and will take no further part in the match. He will be replaced by Kieran Powell.

Jason Holder admitted it has been difficult to adapt to a new role in the West Indies Test side, after the captaincy was handed to Kraigg Brathwaite.

Holder opted not to tour Bangladesh in January due to the coronavirus pandemic, with Brathwaite filling in as captain.

Brathwaite subsequently retained the leadership role for the home series against Sri Lanka in March, and the batsman will again be captain for South Africa's tour of the Caribbean.

It was a decision that came as a surprise to Holder – who had been captain since 2015 – though the 29-year-old is now hoping he can use the opportunity to focus more on his own game.

"It was kind of a shock. Yeah, still lost for words in regards to that, but I am not dwelling on it. I don't think it's something I should dwell on, to be fair," Holder told ESPNcricinfo ahead of the first Test of the two-match series, which starts on Thursday.

"Yeah, it's been difficult. I probably may not show it, but it has been difficult.

"For the last five-six years, I've been captaining West Indies, whether that be Test-match cricket or one-day cricket. So now being relieved of both captaincies, it has been a strange transition for me personally."

Holder had some fine individual moments during his captaincy, though in total only managed 11 Test wins, compared to 21 defeats.

"I am just trying to find ways to move on and transition back to just being a regular player. For me now, it's about showing a bit more of my character, and being a lot more… I would say outspoken. I am relatively outspoken, but just expressing myself a little bit more and having fun," he added.

"I feel as though I have been really, really committed to West Indies cricket – I am still committed to West Indies cricket, but more or less for me now it's just about having fun and enjoying however many days I have playing international cricket.

"There is a lot less pressure, a lot less responsibility. It's just about me now personally… I'm 100 per cent a team man. So I'll play my part to help the team and if there are other players who are seeking out advice or guidance, no doubt I'll be here to give them that."

The Proteas, meanwhile, are set to hand a debut to Keegan Petersen, who has drawn the praises of new Test captain Dean Elgar.

"I've been nervous for a while now," said Petersen, who is likely to replace the retired Faf du Plessis.

"It gives me goosebumps thinking about it. I know I will have big boots to fill. Anyone would be nervous. This is what we dream of as kids and eventually when the dream becomes a reality, it gives your system a bit of a shock."

BLACKWOOD CLOSING IN ON MILESTONE

Jermaine Blackwood could well be crucial if the Windies are to pull off a series victory this month, though they do face a South Africa team who have lost their last nine Tests as tourists.

He needs just 55 runs to bring up 2,000 in total in Test cricket, having averaged 37 from his 67 innings so far. Blackwood and the likes of Shai Hope and Kieran Powell – who have earned recalls – will need to be wary, however, with South Africa's bowling strike rate of 52.2 in Tests since 2018 ranking them behind only India (47.8).

Teenager bowler Jayden Seales, meanwhile, will be looking to make an impact on his debut.

TIME FOR RABADA TO CLICK BACK INTO GEAR

Only one pace bowler has taken more wickets than South Africa's Kagiso Rabada (202) in men's Tests since his debut in November 2015 (Stuart Broad – 203).

Rabada averages 23.4 and has a strike rate of 41.7 across 82 innings, but as of late the burden of carrying South Africa's attack appeared to have dragged him down prior to an 18-month COVID-19 enforced lay off for the team.

While questions remain over the rest of South Africa's pace attack, the tourists need Rabada to step up and deliver at his best. A five-for would be a good start – he has not taken one since March 2018 against Australia.

KEY OPTA FACTS

- This will be the first time West Indies play South Africa in a men's Test since January 2015 – the Windies are winless in their last eight Tests against the Proteas (D2 L6).
- South Africa have won all their eight men’s Test series against the West Indies so far, four of which were won away in the Caribbean.
- West Indies have a win and two losses at the Daren Sammy Cricket Stadium in men's Tests, the remaining four matches they have played at this venue ended in a draw.
- Quinton de Kock has dropped nine catches since 2019 in Test cricket; the only wicketkeeper to drop more catches during this period is India's Rishabh Pant (12).
- West Indies are unbeaten in their last four Tests (W2 D2); however, they lost their four such matches prior to this run.

Recalled West Indies batsman, Shai Hope, has targeted making a solid start on his return to Test cricket ahead of the team’s series against South Africa, which bowls off on Thursday.

The 27-year-old batsman last played for the red ball team in July of last year, after being dropped for a poor run of form in Test cricket ahead of the New Zealand series, in November of last year.

After taking the time off to focus on a few technical inconsistencies and fine-tuning his mental approach, Hope was selected as part of a final 13-man squad for the upcoming Test series earlier this week.

 The batsman impressed selectors with his performance in the West Indies Best vs Best practice match, where he scored 79 in the first innings and 104 in the second.  In addition to that, he also made 68 in a practice match against Sri Lanka earlier this year.  The player is hoping that kind of form translates if he takes the pitch for the upcoming series.

“I want to be clearer in my thought processes and obviously, achieve overall success.  I’m trying to turn over a new leaf and start a fresh book, so hopefully, I can hit the ground running if I get a chance to go out there,” Hope told members of the media.

“Cricket covers different aspects, both technical and mental.  So, I have been working on different things.  The main thing is just to get success out there and I believe in finding a way.  I just need to find a way to score runs for the team.”

 

West Indies opening batsman, Kieran Powell, admits he is looking forward to an opportunity to cement his position in the squad having recently earned a long-awaited recall.

Earlier this week, the 31-year-old left-hander was named among the final 13-man Test squad that will compete against South Africa.  His selection marked a two-and-a-half-year absence from the team, despite some believing the player to be among the region’s top talents.

 Powell, who last represented the West Indies in 2018, during the team’s series against Bangladesh, was in contention for selection to the team last year but failed a fitness test in May.

With several first-string players opting out of the Bangladesh tour earlier this year, he was certainly favourite to claim a spot in the squad but was declared to not have met the fitness standard required by the Cricket West Indies (CWI) selection panel.  Both the player and the Nevis Cricket Association (NCA) rejected the claims and insisted the batsman had in fact met the required fitness standard.  Having been given another chance to shine, Power is, however, eager to claim the opportunity.

“I’ve been out of the team for two and half years now and I’ve counted each month I was not on it,” Powell told members of the media.

“So, it’s obviously a great feeling to be back, but being back is just the start.  Obviously, now when I get my opportunity I have to go out and perform and cement my spot,” he added.

 

CWI chairman of selectors, Roger Harper, has defended the selection of young fast bowler Jayden Seales, despite the player’s lack of experience at the regional level.

With strike bowler Shannon Gabriel out of the upcoming series against South Africa, due to injury, the 19-year-old Seales made it into the final 13-man squad on the back of an impressive performance in the recent West Indies Best vs Best practice match.

The young fast bowler took five wickets overall, including a three-wicket burst that saw him remove the top order of West Indies Best B in the second innings. 

With only one first class match under his belt, however, some have objected to the young bowler being picked ahead of those with a lot more experience.  Harper has insisted, however, that the player’s performance in the practice match was enough to show the selectors plenty of what they were looking for.

“I saw a young bowler play in games where Test players and the best of our regional first class players were playing and he performed exceedingly well, better than a number of players that have been playing first class cricket over a number of years,” Harper told members of the media.

“The match was not classified as a first class match but those matches were played by the best of our regional first class players and he did exceedingly well.  So, I like to think that if he can perform well in those games against those players, he had the potential to transfer that to Test games,” he added.

The series against South Africa will get underway at the Daren Sammy Cricket Ground in St Lucia, on Thursday.

 

Kyle Sinckler has been called up to the British and Irish Lions squad for the upcoming tour of South Africa, following Andrew Porter's injury.

Tighthead prop Porter has been ruled out of the series due to a toe problem, which the Ireland international sustained on Friday while in action for Leinster.

Sinckler was a big-name omission from the original selection, but Warren Gatland has now called up the England prop.

Following his omission from the 37-man squad, Sinckler had said it "didn't make sense" to him that he had been left out. He has previously toured with the Lions in 2017, when the team visited New Zealand.

The Lions squad will convene on June 13, taking on Japan in Edinburgh 13 days later before heading out to South Africa, with the tour culminating in a three-Test series against the Springboks.

"It's really bad luck for Andrew and we send him our very best wishes for a quick and successful rehab," said Gatland.

"Andrew is a young man with a big future ahead of him and I'm sure he'll be in contention again in four years' time."

And the former Wales coach hopes Sinckler proves him wrong for his initial decision to leave him out.

"As always in rugby, when there's an injury there's an opportunity for someone else," Gatland added.

"I have been very pleased to see the way Kyle has responded to initially being left out of the touring party.

"He's showed some excellent form of late and I hope he continues to stick two fingers up to me about leaving him out in the first place."

The Lions last toured South Africa in 2009, when they lost the Test series 2-1.

Pace bowler Marquino Mindley has been released from quarantine, after testing positive for the coronavirus two weeks ago.

The 26-year-old was called to the West Indies red-ball camp a few weeks ago, as part of the team’s preparations to face South Africa in two weeks time.

The player was, however, forced to isolate, as part of strict COVID-19 protocols, after returning a positive PCR test.  The player was put into isolation at the team hotel away from the other players and the coaching staff.

He was cleared to resume training with the rest of the camp on Thursday, after returning a second negative RT-PCR test result.

Mindley even managed a short spell on the final day the intra-squad four-day match, which concluded on Thursday.  The bowler, however, missed the majority of the Best vs Best four-day match, which was used to select the squad for the two-match Test series against South Africa beginning June 10. Both Tests will be played at the Daren Sammy Cricket Ground.

Shai Hope, Kieran Powell, and Jayden Seales have been included in a provisional 17-man squad for the upcoming Betway Test Series against South Africa set to begin on June 10. Opening batsman, John Campbell, however, has not made the cut.

West Indies leg-spinner, Hayden Walsh Jr, admits he is eager to put a difficult year behind him, with solid performances in the upcoming series of T20 internationals.

The 29-year-old was named as part of a preliminary 18-man squad that recently began preparations to face South Africa, Australia, and Pakistan in a flurry of upcoming T20 internationals. 

The group was named with preparations for the T20 World Cup in mind, which is slated for India later this year.  Despite not featuring in a number of matches for the regional team this year, he was one of 18 players offered an international retainer contract.  Chief of selectors Roger Harper went on to explain that the player’s status as the only quality leg-spinner, in the region, prompted the selectors to include him in the team’s retainer plans.

The player suffered from misfortune last year after being forced to pull out of the tour to Bangladesh, after testing positive for Covid-19.

 “I’ve been having a tough year so far, so the fact that I am still in the plans and I still have a lot to work for, it’s still a good feeling,” Walsh said in an interview with the Antigua Observer.

“I started out the year testing positive for Covid, which ruled me out of the Bangladesh series, which I was really looking forward to. I came back to the Super 50 and I didn’t really do as well, mainly because I’ve been in isolation and I didn’t have any preparation,” he added.

 “If that did not happen, then I probably most likely would have been around the T20 and One Day squads against Sri Lanka, so I feel like I’ve missed out a lot.”

 

Thirteen members of the West Indies men red-ball training squad and management have received vaccinations against COVID-19 in St. Lucia, where they are preparing for the upcoming ICC World Test Championship Test matches against South Africa.

The veteran trio of Chris Gayle, Fidel Edwards, and Dwayne Bravo have all been included in a provisional 18-man squad released by Cricket West Indies, ahead of a flurry of upcoming international matches.

As part of preparations for the upcoming World T20 championships the Windies, the defending champions, will be involved in three back-to-back five-match T20 International (T20I) series against South Africa, Australia, and Pakistan.

The squad, which will be captained by Kieron Pollard, will also see the return of the likes of Sheldon Cottrell, Shimron Hetmyer, Andre Russell, Oshane Thomas, and Hayden Walsh Jr.  The players missed out on being selected for the team’s previous T20 international series against Sri Lanka, which was won 2-1 by the regional team.

Windies coach Phil Simmons has praised the squad as a combination of experience and youth.

“These upcoming T20Is are crucial in terms of our preparation for the ICC T20 World Cup. We have assembled a very solid squad — with experienced world-class match-winners and some exciting young talented players, ready to explode onto the global stage and do great things for West Indies cricket,” Simmons said.

 “We are at that point where we have identified those who we will look to be the core of the squad to defend our World Cup title, so we want to make sure the upcoming matches create that environment — the way we train, the way we plan, the way we execute and the chemistry within the group. We won five years ago, so the next few weeks and months will be major steppingstones on the road towards defending our title and being World Champions for the third time.”

 

FULL SQUAD SELECTED:

  1. Kieron Pollard – Captain
  2. Nicholas Pooran – Vice-Captain
  3. Fabian Allen
  4. Dwayne Bravo
  5. Sheldon Cottrell
  6. Fidel Edwards
  7. Andre Fletcher
  8. Chris Gayle
  9. Shimron Hetmyer
  10. Jason Holder
  11. Akeal Hosein
  12. Evin Lewis
  13. Obed McCoy
  14. Andre Russell
  15. Lendl Simmons
  16. Kevin Sinclair
  17. Oshane Thomas
  18. Hayden Walsh Jr
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