West Indies vs South Africa: Kraigg Brathwaite cautions against taking Proteas lightly in Tests despite recent slump – Firstcricket News, Firstpost en

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South Africa have been going through a period of transition for quite some time now and the fact that the current side is yet to find its feet reflects in their steady decline in performances over the last three years. The lack of results becomes an even bigger issue when the Proteas are on tour, the once mighty side having last won a Test series on foreign soil against New Zealand in March 2017.

Thus, one could say that for the first time in a couple of decades, West Indies enter a Test series at par with the South Africans in terms of chances of winning, if not slightly ahead. While the West Indians have been having a mixed run in the Test format since their tour to England last summer, their recent series win in Bangladesh and some promising performances in the drawn series against Sri Lanka would’ve given them some confidence going into the upcoming face-off against Dean Elgar’s men.

But captain Kraigg Brathwaite, who took over the position from Jason Holder after the latter opted out of the Bangladesh tour, and was given a permanent role after the 2-0 series sweep, has cautioned against taking the Proteas lightly even if they were starved of success in recent years.

« For us as a team, from January we are doing certain things good, and obviously you still want to improve in those areas. But for us, it’s just to go there and do the simple things right. I think results will take care of itself. We know South Africa will be challenging, we know that as a team. But I think once we do the small things right, that’s what I like to focus on, and then results will take care of themselves.

« South Africa is obviously a very good Test team and always has quality fast bowlers. Playing against any Test team is never easy. It’s not to say any Test team is easy. But I look forward to the challenge, » the Bajan told reporters in a press conference on the eve of the first Test.

Brathwaite, who enters the Test series fresh from a stint with Gloucestershire in the ongoing County Championship, further added that for the hosts, it was simply about continuing with the same attitude and discipline that they showed on the tour of Bangladesh earlier this year.

« I think for us it’s a continuation of the good thing we started from January in Bangladesh. For me, it’s quite simple. We’ve just got to keep the same attitude we had and discipline, and I think results will take care of themselves once we do the small things right, » added the opening batter.

The Test series for the Sir Vivian Richards Trophy — which has been in South Africa’s possession since its inception in 1998 —  marks the beginning of a packed home calendar that also includes visits by the Australian and Pakistani teams with matches lined up until August, which then will be followed by the Caribbean Premier League. The hosts have so far announced a 13-member squad for the first Test which will be further trimmed to 11 on match day. Batsman Shai Hope earns a recall in the Test side after being dropped following the three-match series in England last year.

Also returning the Test squad after an extended gap is opener Kieran Powell, who made the last of his 40 Test appearances in late 2018. Additionally, uncapped seamer Jayden Seales, who had an impressive run in last year’s ICC U-19 World Cup, earned a maiden call-up into the Test side. However, the hosts suffered a blow in the build-up to the series opener with senior pacer and leader of the attack Shannon Gabriel getting ruled out due to injury.

Overall, the skipper was happy with the composition of the squad, calling it a « solid thirteen » with each member of the squad worthy of a place in the playing XI. Additionally, Brathwaite didn’t feel the absence of someone like Gabriel in the attack would make the bowling department all the weaker, thereby adding pressure on the batting department to deliver.

« The decision hasn’t been made as yet regarding the starting eleven, but pretty much a solid thirteen. I think all thirteen have a great opportunity to be in the eleven, so obviously we’ll have our meeting a little later.

« As a team, both as batters and bowlers, we know (what) we have to do. Whether we play 100 games or two games. As I said, as batsmen and bowlers, we know the job we have to do and you go there and give it your hundred percent, » said Brathwaite, who also confirmed that the side would be taking the knee on the field before the start of play in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement and the fight against racial inequality.

The two Tests against South Africa take place at the Darren Sammy International Stadium in Gros Islet, St Lucia with play starting at 10 am local time (7.30 pm Indian Standard Time). The two sides then proceed to St George’s, Grenada for a five-match T20I series — a crucial format in a year that will see the return of the T20 World Cup.

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ICC match referee Chris Broad imposed the sanction after Joe Root’s side was ruled to be two overs short of the target after time allowances were taken into consideration.

Russell is currently in the UAE to take part in the remainder of PSL 2021 that was suspended in March following COVID-19 cases inside its bubble.

The CPL is scheduled to get underway from 28 August with the final to be played on 19 September, while the remaining part of IPL is likely to be held from 18 September to 10 October, not leaving the players with any time to settle down.

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