IF THE West Indian batsmen are on their knees in the three-test series against South Africa, an even more difficult time awaits them in the third test at Newlands on Friday.
Their problems, especially in the first test where they scored just 332 runs in both innings, stem from their dependency on experienced batsmen Marlon Samuels and Shivnarine Chanderpaul, according to former Proteas batsman Ashwell Prince.
While they are still slugging it out in the rain-affected second test in Port Elizabeth, things might get even harder when they pad up at the Vernon Philander- friendly Newlands pitch.
Philander should be renamed Newlands Destroyer.
He has taken 31 wickets at his home ground in the five tests since he made his debut against Australia in 2011.
In that match that nobody will forget, Philander took 3-63 in the first bowling innings of his test career before taking 5-15 in his second to help the Proteas to an eight-wicket win.
He has made Dale Steyn and Morné Morkel, who have scalped 19 and 16 wickets respectively in the same period, look like softball pitchers.
“When you’re depending on two batsmen – and I know they are the two batsmen of the West Indies lineup – and one of them or both gets a good ball early in his innings, the team will struggle,” Prince said.
“They are up against good bowlers in Steyn, Morkel, Philander and [Kyle] Abbot. Chanderpaul got two good balls early in both his dismissals in Centurion: in the first innings [of the first test] he got a good one that nipped away and he got caught at slip and in the second he got a good bumper that took his glove.
“Samuels and Chanderpaul are their two outstanding batsmen, but the other five need to see this tour as an opportunity to make a name for themselves.
“They need to say: ‘We can’t just depend on Shiv or Marlon, this is a real opportunity to stake a claim’.”
There are almost 15000 test runs between Chanderpaul and Samuels.
Prince expects the pressure cooker to be put on max for the Windies batsmen when they go to Cape Town, but the rest of their lineup needs to show a bit of bite.
“If you’re a test batsman and you’re looking to score runs when it’s going to be an easy ride, you might as well pack your bags and not bother because you’re never going to get that,” he said.
“You must be prepared to work hard – and not necessarily getting hit on your body and things like that — by organising yourself and being able to bat for a long time. That’s the most important thing.
“There are definitely easier times to play shots, just as there are harder days.
“Getting out of the way of the short stuff and playing the horizontal shots is going to be important on a pitch like that.” – Sbu Mjikeliso