Match Preview – South Africa vs West Indies, West Indies vs South Africa 2022/23, 2nd Test

Big picture

For South Africa and the West Indies, the current World Test Championship comes to an end at the Wanderers with neither side vying for a place in the final, but both aiming for a better finish than in their previous run. South Africa finished the 2019-2021 cycle fifth; West Indies finished eighth. Now they are looking at third and sixth place respectively. If nothing else, that represents progress at a time when Test cricket is lacking matches and relevance in both places.

After this match, unless extra matches are added to an already overcrowded calendar, South Africa will not play in white for the next nine months – before hosting India in December – opening their next World Test Championship cycle. The West Indies’ next tests are also against India, but slightly earlier, in July-August. Between now and then, both South Africa and the West Indies will focus on securing their places in the 50-over World Cup 2023, with at least one of them appearing in the qualifier in Zimbabwe. For countries who were the third and fourth respectively to play Test cricket, the shift in priorities is too strong to ignore, but their desire to reassert themselves as key players in this format will be on full display this week.

You can expect both to make a strong case. While both teams have batting positions that are vulnerable under pressure, they can boast strong offensive attacks and, in theory, there’s no better place for them to put on a show than the Wanderers. In practice, the arena was extremely spinner-friendly this summer and Simon Harmer and Bjorn Fortuin were among the beneficiaries. To this end, South Africa have included two specialist spinners in their XI and hope the match will take more than three days to bring them into play.

The West Indies won’t be too unhappy about that. A tamer ground will be more like a home for them and give them a chance to end on a positive note a run-out that started in Australia and then traveled through Zimbabwe. While there will not actually be a prize for the West Indies if they win the match, it will be the first time they have not lost a series in South Africa. Letting that record slip is not an option for the hosts, especially as they look to end the testing summer on a high.

Form guide

(last five completed matches, most recent first)

South Africa: WDLLL

West Indies: LWDLL

In the spotlight

After winning a pair on his captaincy debut and being dropped from the T20 side due to what white-ball coach Rob Walter said were “performance-based” reasons, Tem Bavuma two weeks can only get better. Test cricket is his best form and he is South Africa’s most consistent batsman, having scored all but one half century in their last six series. With South Africa’s No.3 and No.5 spots still up for debate in the batting line-up, Bavuma’s role in keeping the line-up together at No.4 is even more important, especially after the middle order was blown away at Supersport Park.

Raymon Reifer and Jermaine Blackwood showed the temperament it takes to hit South African surfaces in the first Test and Tagenarine Chanderpaul will want to follow. He has had an impressive start to his career with a half century in Australia and a double century in Zimbabwe and will be looking to show that his ability to score runs in unfamiliar conditions extends to South Africa. Chanderpaul’s partnership with Kraigg Braithwaite will also come under scrutiny, especially after they managed just 22 runs for the first wicket in the first test.

Team news

South Africa named their XI on the eve of the match and cleared their bench, making four changes from the team playing at SuperSport Park. Keegan Petersen is dropped from the batting lineup and Ryan Rickelton is included – reward for a summer in which he scored three first-class hundreds in as many games and averaged 121.66. With Anrich Nortje out with a groin problem, South Arica surprisingly has two spinners – Simon Harmer and Keshav Maharaj – and all-rounder Wiaan Mulder. Marco Jansen has been given rest and Senuran Muthusamy has lost his place.

South Africa possible XI: 1 Dean Elgar, 2 Aiden Markram, 3 Tony de Zorzi, 4 Temba Bavuma (capt), 5 Ryan Rickelton, 6 Heinrich Klaasen (wk), 7 Wiaan Mulder, 8 Simon Harmer 9 Keshav Maharaj, 10 Kagiso Rabada, 11 Gerald Coetzee

Windward Islands all-rounder Alick Athanaze could be considered for a debut in place of Roston Chase. West Indies could also bring in left arm spinner Gudakesh Motie to replace Shannon Gabriel.

West Indies: 1 Kraigg Braithwaite, 2 Tagenarine Chanderpaul, 3 Raymon Reifer, 4 Jermaine Blackwood, 5 Alick Athanaze/Roston Chase, 6 Kyle Mayers, 7 Joshua da Silva, 8 Jason Holder, 9 Alzarri Joseph, 10 Kemar Roach, 11 Shannon Gabriel/Gudakesh Motie

Location and conditions

All eyes will be on Brendon Frost, the new Wanderers groundsman preparing his first test strip. Frost was previously in charge at Willowmoore Park so he is familiar with the conditions at Highveld and is unlikely to deviate too far from the traditional Johannesburg surface, with good pace and bounce offerings but, in a plot twist, there is probably also a turn. The past few seasons have seen spinners between the wickets at the Wanderers and a patchy, grassy surface could offer them something if play goes beyond three days. They can be negated to some extent by the weather. After a hot week in Centurion, there has been some rain ahead of the Wanderers Test, but clear skies are forecast for the first four days, with thunderstorms expected late on Sunday. A midweek start to the game means there won’t be much of a crowd, with Friday afternoon likely to be when the stadium comes alive.

Statistics and tidbits

  • This is both South Africa and the West Indies’ final match in the current World Test Championship cycle. A victory for South Africa could put them in contention to finish third (depending on the outcome of the New Zealand-Sri Lanka series), five places above their eighth-place finish at the end of the 2019-2021 cycle . The West Indies are currently in seventh place and a win could move them to sixth.
  • The last time the West Indies played a Test in Johannesburg, in 2003, Brian Lara scored 202 in the first innings, but South Africa won by 189 runs.
  • Quotes

    “We got away with a good result but the truth is we weren’t particularly good. West Indies were good. And the wicket was heavy but that doesn’t mean we just roll over like we did recently and have done in the past .”

    Test coach of South Africa Shukri Conrad gave a harsh assessment of their first Test performance despite the win and want to see a better batting effort in this match.

    “It was very good for us as a bowling group to get 20 wickets. In the first 20 wickets we were a bit overpriced and as a batting unit we need to improve. We will come hard whatever the XI South Africa plays. We are not far away. South Africa is a tough team at home. With a little more effort we could do well.”

    Kraigg Brathwaite don’t underestimate his opponents

    Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo’s correspondent for South Africa and women’s cricket


    %d bloggers like this: