GROS ISLET, St Lucia – South Africa bowling coach Charl Langeveldt believes his inexperienced side can still pull off a series win against West Indies but will have to be disciplined enough to execute the right things “for longer periods”, during the two-Test rubber.
Speaking on the first day of full practise after the entire travelling party returned second negative COVID-19 tests to end their quarantine, the former South Africa seamer underscored the value of “boring cricket”, if the Proteas were to extend their excellent record against the home side.
West Indies have not beaten South Africa in a Test series since the one-off Test in Bridgetown nearly 30 years ago which marked the tourists’ readmission to international cricket.
“[Our] Test cricket, we want to turn that around,” said Langeveldt, best remembered in the Caribbean for his sensational hat-trick at Kensington Oval in a One-Day International in 2005, which earned South Africa a dramatic victory.
“A win – a one-nil [maybe]. A two-nil would be even better but we’ll take any win if we can play good cricket for longer periods, put West Indies under pressure and keep that discipline for longer periods. We can achieve that.”
He added: “For me, it’s getting the actions repeatable – doing the same things for longer. The captain [Dean Elgar] speaks about playing boring cricket for long, and in Test cricket, that’s what you want to do, day in and day out.
“It’s a process. If you want to improve yourself, you have to be able to have these disciplines and do the same things for longer periods.”
South Africa find itself in a rebuilding phase for the tour with the likes of veterans Dale Steyn, Hashim Amla, AB de Villiers and Faf du Plessis all having quit the longest format in recent years.
It means selectors have chosen six uncapped players in the 19-man Test squad with Kyle Verreynne, Lizaad Williams, Prenelan Subrayen, Marco Jansen, Sarel Erwee and Keegan Peterson all newcomers.
Elgar is the most experienced on tour, the top-order batsman averaging 40 from 67 Tests, and leads a tested quartet comprising Quinton de Kock who averages 37 from 51 Tests, vice-captain Temba Bavuma who averages 32 from 44 and fast bowler Kagiso Rabada who has taken 202 wickets from 45 Tests.
Langeveldt said both the playing XI and the reserves needed to be intense in their buildup so tour selectors had a well-prepared unit to choose from.
“I think my demeanour is very calm. I’m a very laid back person but I want to bring the energy,” Langeveldt said.
“I always say to the guys, you never know what can happen days before leading into a Test match – guys can have a lack of form. So you need to be always pushing the guys in the playing XI, you always look to better yourself by having good energy at the practice [and] attitude.”
He continued: “We have a young team here, guys that haven’t played a lot of first-class cricket, haven’t played a lot of international cricket so it’s all about competing and bringing that competition into the nets, into the warm-up games.
“This is how you can improve yourself and say to the guy that’s in front of you ‘I’m not just here to tour, I’m here to push you.”
Langeveldt, who played six Tests and 72 ODIs, said winning the five-match T20 International series would be a more difficult prospect but remained positive about South Africa’s chances.
“[The] T20 cricket is going to be a tough one. They have quite a strong team,” he noted.
“It’s going to be a good competition. I think we’ve got a 3-2 [win] but it’s all leading up to the World Cup so we want to have a good T20 series as well.
“Five games are a lot and it’s against a good quality West Indies team so it will be a good challenge for our guys.”
The first Test is scheduled to bowl off here next Thursday at the Daren Sammy National Stadium, with the second Test getting underway on June 18 at the same venue.
All five T20 Internationals will be played in Grenada from June 26 to July 3.