Cape Town - South Africa clinched a 2-0 series victory over the West Indies after beating the tourists by eight wickets at Newlands in the third and final Test. West Indies won the toss, as they have done on every other occasion during this series, and for the first time, opted to bat. Despite four batsmen getting starts, the tourists could not string together any significant partnerships and were dismissed for 329 in their first innings. South Africa notched up 421 in reply, with a fine century from AB de Villiers leading the way.
In their second innings, the Windies were far less convincing, managing just 215 after rain washed out much of the fourth day's play. On a tricky pitch, South Africa notched up the 123 runs required for victory with a slow and steady approach, cementing their spot at the top of the Test rankings in the process. Here are some talking points from the final Test.
Morne Morkel deserved more for his efforts
Morne Morkel only took four wickets, but it was hardly an reflection on the work he put in. When South Africa were still in search of a Test spinner, Morne Morkel was often used as the bowler who “bowls dry” (ie, ties up an end). He served that capacity well, but his performance at Newlands was another reminder of just how useful he can be when he gets up players’ noses. A few missed opportunities, in the form of catches dropping short and reviews not going his way, only added to Morkel’s bad luck.
West Indies fail to take advantage of momentum
West Indies were often unable to get the ball rolling in scoring runs. Losing wickets at regular intervals halted progress on a number of occasions.
On day one, Devon Smith fell right before the lunch break, Marlon Samuels fell just four overs before tea and Shivnarine Chanderpaul fell straight after tea. Denesh Ramdin was sent on his way five overs before close of play on day one and just four wickets into day two, Jermaine Blackwood was out, too. This trend continued every single time a partnership was starting to build. Impatience stunted progress and despite three half-centuries and two scores of 40-plus in their first innings, the Windies failed to capitalise
Alviro Petersen’s lack of form
Alviro Petersen called time on his Test career at the end of the series, but perhaps he was not supposed to be playing in the first place. It has been 11 innings’ since he’s reached a test fifty and 27 innings since he’s reached a Test century. He was close to reaching his half-century in the first innings, but was unluckily run out. There was a chance to redeem himself for the second innings, but he went out for a duck. Selectors should know better than picking a player who is out of form. Quinton de Kock could have been given a shot at test level opening, or even Dolphins opener Morne van Wyk and Cobras opening batsman, Andrew Puttick, after being the top two run scorers in the Momentum One Day Cup thus far.
Simon Harmer utilising pitch advantage
The pitch was at first very flat and batsman-friendly, but debutant Simon Harmer used his off break spin to confuse the batsmen as variation from the pacers in Vernon Philander, Morne Morkel and Dale Steyn. Hitting pacers on a flat pitch is one thing, but facing substantial spin as a further test can really become more devious, as spin can sometimes be more effective on flat surfaces if executed right. Such as if the ball is ripped as hard as possible beating the batsmen in the air, rather than the pitch; bowled at a straighter line; or bowled with more of a top spin allowing the ball to dip sharper. Harmer beat three of West Indies top batsmen in their first innings.
As the test went on and West Indies batted the second innings in the last two days, the pitch wore more and cracks began appearing, which allows the ball to keep low in the deliveries. Simon Harmer was then seen as a great strike bowler and was more threatening and effective in his second innings as he took four wickets, two of which were their top order batsmen. He was also involved in halting their momentum later on after West Indies were cruising, taking another two of their tail-ender batsmen. Harmer finished his debut test with figures of 7-153.