While the superb pace trio of Anrich Nortje, Kagiso Rabada and Lungi Ngidi have quite rightly been lauded for the damage they inflicted on the West Indies batting as the Proteas swept to an innings victory in the first Test at St Lucia, South Africa captain Dean Elgar also pointed to the efforts of the batsmen as being worthy of praise.
Nortje, the enforcer bowling with nasty venom, enjoyed match figures of seven for 81, while Ngidi took five for 19 in the first innings and Rabada then finished off the home side with five for 34 in their second knock.
But on a spicy pitch on which the seam bowlers threatened throughout, the embattled Proteas batsmen did very well to post 322 in their only innings.
Quinton de Kock’s magnificent 141 not out, with 12 fours and seven sixes, rightfully stole the limelight and earned him the man of the match award, but Aiden Markram (60) and Rassie van der Dussen (46) made sure he had something of a platform to build on.
Wiaan Mulder and Nortje then shared important partnerships with De Kock to bat the West Indies out of the game with a first-innings lead of 225. Even debutant Keegan Petersen may have only scored 19, but he came to the crease in the first over and batted positively for 40 minutes to keep the home side from making more early breakthroughs.
“The bowlers were assisted in quite a big way by the pitch, conditions were very favourable for seam bowling, and our batsmen managed to score more than 300 so credit must go to them as well,” Elgar said.
“Quinny was just brilliant, showing what a world-class cricketer he is, and Aiden and Rassie applied themselves well too.”
But it was the bowlers who stole the show as they did not get carried away by the helpful conditions or ever stray from the simple disciplines the new full-time skipper wanted – like keeping to the channel just outside off-stump and forcing the batsmen to decide whether to play or leave a ball that could move either way, which the pacemen did superbly.
“Lungi, Anrich and KG were brilliant with the ball and Kesha Maharaj chipped in really nicely on the third day,” Elgar said.
“It was a proper, professional approach and the team were clinical and ruthless. It was a bit more of the old-school South African style, which I wanted. I know it’s in us, we just need to get it out. It was a collective effort and I know the effort it took, so we won’t take this win for granted.
“It’s nice when everything comes together, I asked for individuals to get accolades and we had a century and two five-fors. Our bowling attack put down their stamp of authority, which we’ve been struggling to do. The basics of bowling applied on that pitch, we had to execute our skills and utilise the facilities. We have a great balance in our attack at the moment.”