TELFORD VICE, Cape Town
IF the teams in a tournament that will be played in the Caribbean next month were brothers, SA would be the middle child.
That’s in terms of a formbook encompassing all the completed one-day internationals West Indies, Australia and SA have played since the start of last year.
The Windies have won only four of their 15 games while Australia have lost just six of 26. SA fall between those extremes, having won 18 and lost 11.
Could this really be a case of middle child syndrome, that disguising definition of the disappointment parents feel when their middle pip isn’t quite as successful as their eldest or as adorable as their youngest?
Perhaps. Consider that, also since January 2015, Australia have won their fifth World Cup crown and West Indies have clinched their second World T20 tiara. SA, of course, are still tournamentally tortured.
But the edge will be taken off those differences by the fact that none of the teams have played an ODI in the West Indies since August 2014, when the home side won all three matches against Bangladesh.
Australia’s last series in the format in the Caribbean was in March 2012, when the five-match rubber was shared 2-2 because the third game was tied.
There was no such excitement in SA’s last ODI venture in the West Indies – the visitors won 5-0 in May and June in 2010.
West Indies are the only side of the three who have not undergone sweeping change since they last played an ODI series in the Caribbean. The squad that beat Bangladesh featured still relevant figures like Dwayne Bravo, Chris Gayle, Jason Holder, Sunil Narine and Darren Sammy.
Not so the Australians, who counted Shane Watson, Husseys David and Mike, Brett Lee, Michael Clarke and Brad Haddin in their squad, though Clarke and Haddin were withdrawn through injury.
SA’s most recent ODI dressingroom in the West Indies brimmed with Graeme Smith, Jacques Kallis, Mark Boucher, Johan Botha, Charl Langeveldt, Alviro Petersen and Lonwabo Tsotsobe.
Much has changed in the interim, not least that the Australians have been lectured on the dangers of having unprotected sex during the triseries because the Zika virus – which leads to birth deformities and is transmitted during sex – has been found in Guyana.
Also, for the first time in the Caribbean all matches of an ODI series will be day/nighters. This should add spice to conditions that, Barbados apart, tend to shut bowlers out of the game.
A significant addition to the Windies’ ranks is the appointment of Rod Estwick as their bowling coach. He replaces Curtly Ambrose, who served as a consultant.
South Africans will remember Estwick as a fast bowler who took 70 wickets at 17.62 in 16 first-class matches for Transvaal between 1987 and 1989.
Estwick is a half-brother of Sylvester Clarke, another West Indian fast bowler who went on to call the Wanderers home.