This series has not been a contest so far. South Africa have secured three of the more comprehensive victories you will see and West Indies look as though they’d rather be doing anything else than playing cricket. Even the usual effervescent Darren Sammy, who was left out of the third match, has struggled to raise many smiles.
Being hammered for a 31-ball hundred in Johannesburg was a freak performance by a freak cricketer; the way West Indies played in East London was more disheartening to see. There appeared little will to fight it out with the bat, as witnessed by the shots of Marlon Samuels and Andre Russell, and insipidity in the field.
South Africa, though, have played impressive cricket but despite AB de Villiers’ assertion that no wins are easy they must surely hope to be tested a little more ahead of the World Cup. The middle order needs some time at the crease and there is set to be some shuffling of the line-up to ensure the likes of David Miller and JP Duminy can benefit.
They will not be fielding a first-choice side with both Dale Steyn and Hashim Amla rested with further rotation likely in the bowling attack. That could create an opportunity for West Indies, but only if they improve immensely from the first three matches. At the moment, a South African second team would beat them.
(last five matches, most recent first)
West Indies LLLLL
In the spotlight
This match should give us a chance to look at South Africa’s squad bowlers. There is a chance that the trio of Wayne Parnell, Kyle Abbott and Aaron Phangiso could all play. The home side appear pretty set on their first-choice attack, but there has to be the expectation that an injury will strike at some stage during the World Cup so they all need to ready at a moment’s notice. Also, one of questions over South Africa’s attack, away from whether they need a specialist fifth bowler, is the death bowling – barely tested in this series – and Parnell and Abbott are other options for that role.
It is slim pickings for West Indies, but Jonathan Carter has actually shown a hint of fight since coming into the middle order. Given what is happening above him in the order, it may not be a bad idea to elevate him. Denesh Ramdin certainly seems a place too high at No. 5 while Narsingh Deonarine is not in the World Cup squad.
It will be a different-looking South Africa team. Amla and Steyn are already confirmed as not being there for this match, while AB de Villiers will hand the keeping gloves to Morne van Wyk, who is not in the World Cup squad but is high on the reserve list should injuries occur although Quinton de Kock is well on track to be fit.
South Africa (possible) 1 Rilee Rossouw, 2 Morne van Wyk (wk), 3 Faf du Plessis, 4 AB de Villiers (capt), 5 David Miller, 6 JP Duminy, 7 Farhaan Behardien, 8 Wayne Parnell, 9 Kyle Abbott, 10 Morne Morkel, 11 Imran Tahir
It has reached the stage where you suspect changes for West Indies will not make much of a difference and Jason Holder suggested that the same team heavily beaten in East London may get another chance.
West Indies 1 Dwayne Smith, 2 Chris Gayle, 3 Narsingh Deonarine, 4 Marlon Samuels, 5 Denesh Ramdin (wk), 6 Jonathan Carter, 7 Andre Russell, 8 Carlos Brathwaite, 9 Jason Holder (capt), 10 Jerome Taylor, 11 Sulieman Benn
Pitch and conditions
It is often one of the slower surfaces in South Africa – West Indies benefited from this in the Test – although so was East London and that did not help the visitors. It is expected to be quite a humid day, so there could be some swing depending on the direction of the breeze (or wind). No rain is forecast, which after the damp Test is a relief.
Stats and trivia
The teams have met four times in ODIs at this ground and South Africa have won them all
Faf du Plessis needs 57 runs to reach 2000 in ODIs
Jerome Taylor’s economy rate of 7.10 is the highest for a West Indies bowler who has bowled at least 20 overs in a series
“You take what you get, you play the situation you’re confronted with and you prepare accordingly. That’s all you can do. Some games you’re 20 for 4, sometimes not. You’ve got to prepare as best as possible to give your team the best chance to win.”
AB de Villiers on whether he is concerned by the lack of time for his middle order
“We felt like we needed to sit and discuss some things and get the minds right for the next two games.”
Jason Holder on why West Indies cancelled training on Friday