All agree: Windies will shine in T20

09 January 2015 - 02:36
By Telford Vice

A familiar figure popped his head around the door to the room in which reporters had gathered for a press conference after the last day of the third Test between South Africa and West Indies at Newlands on Tuesday.

Chris Gayle is tall, broad-shouldered and dreadlocked.

"Are you waiting for me?" he asked with a smile as wide as his bat.

Gayle had gone before we could reply: "Bloody hell, yes!"

For most of the Test series, West Indies were about as competitive as a teddy bear in a bullfight. The Proteas won 2-0 and would likely have whitewashed the visitors had rain not taken 249 overs - or almost three days' play - out of the match at St George's Park.

But the T20 series, which starts at Newlands today, is a different animal. This time, SA's matadors will suit up to face the real thing.

Here's why: Gayle, Kieron Pollard, Darren Sammy and André Russell were not in the Test squad, mostly because they can make more money playing in T20 circuses than representing the Caribbean.

Add those players to the Test mix and West Indies would have been far stronger. Happily, then, they are in the T20 squad.

The Proteas, meanwhile, have rested AB de Villiers, Hashim Amla, Dale Steyn and Morné Morkel, while JP Duminy is in the squad but will not play to give him extra time after a knee injury.

Perhaps that is what made Windies captain Darren Sammy confident enough to poke fun at the sentimentally lachrymose marketing campaign on a TV near you.

"I'm seeing a lot of ads about Protea Fire," Sammy said. "I guess Cape Town will be blazing, but with a maroon flame."

Faf du Plessis agreed that the visitors were the stronger team going forward.

"They are probably the favourites because they are playing their full strength team," SA captain Du Plessis said.

And Gayle, Pollard, Sammy and Russell were all mercenaries in SA's franchise T20 competition this summer and will not be unfamiliar with pitches here.