Windies turn to spin against the Proteas
WHILE Chris Gayle wants the West Indies to be given pitches more suited to spin bowling, their current strengths, his counterpart Graeme Smith believes South Africa have coped well against the home team’s two spinners.
The final Test of a series which South Africa dominated initially and which then went through a pathetic draw in St Kitts, starts at the Kensington Oval today, with Gayle concerned that the pitch would suit South Africa’s strengths more, namely their fast bowling pair, Dale Steyn and Morné Morkel.
“These conditions are more suited to the South African attack. We have two capable spinners, maybe on pitches like in Guyana would have been better for us. These are the kinds of things we need to consider more seriously. We must try and get the home advantage to suit us more,” Gayle said yesterday.
There’ll be a few locals choking on their Rice Krispies after hearing that, and at a ground where the two ends are named after two fast bowling legends – Joel Garner and Malcolm Marshall – the irony couldn’t be more rich.
But Gayle is being honest. His side’s best chance of squaring the series rest on the performances of off-spinner Shane Shillingford and left-arm slow bowler Sulieman Benn.
Between them the pair have grabbed 18 of the 23 wickets that have fallen in the series with Shillingford impressing in his debut series claiming nine wickets.
“If they are going to be bowling a large amount of the overs then they are going to be picking up more wickets,” explained the South African captain. “The pitches have been slow. We’ve scored freely off them, we’ve rotated the strike. We’ve manipulated them well,” Smith said.
He had a hint of praise for Shillingford, who has troubled Hashim Amla. “He is a different style of off-spinner. We’ve adapted well but he doesn’t bowl too many bad balls.” South Africa’s front line spinner Paul Harris has battled to get into the series. He got through a large amount of work in St Kitts, but with Steyn and Morkel grabbing all the wickets and the limelight he’s been left playing a defensive role.
“Harry’s Harry, he’s a special man in a special body, he was a bit disappointed with certain aspects of his game especially in the early parts of that match, but he came right, hopefully he goes from strength to strength.”
One of his great strengths is utilising bounce in the pitch and if that is the case, as many locals seem to believe then perhaps South Africa’s spinner will play a bigger role in the outcome of this Test than was the case in the previous two.
Nevertheless the platform will be set by Steyn and Morkel. Gayle recognised that nullifying those two would be vital if his side are to emerge with an unlikely win.
“They are an experienced team and it is difficult to pinpoint one area where we can attack them. It is important to block out their two key bowlers; Steyn and Morkel, if we can do that, then maybe we can attack the others.”