Their captain asked for them to get back to a South African way of scoring centuries and taking five-wicket hauls.
He asked and they delivered as South Africa won the first Test by an emphatic innings and 63 runs and registered their first away Test win since 2017.
Quinton de Kock scored his best Test score on his way to a majestic 141* and in doing so, silenced all his critics that were calling for his removal from the Test team. It was a timely reminder that form is temporary, class is permanent.
The South African pace attack was as lethal as you could imagine, with Lungi Ngidi and Anrich Nortje ripping the West Indies batting apart in the first innings, and Ngidi getting to his second Test five-for with incredible figures of 5-19. Anrich Nortje, sporting a new look bowled with pace, aggression but most importantly accuracy on his way to 4-35. Kagiso Rabada was under a great deal of pressure coming into this series, but he was his impeccable self, with nagging lines and lengths making the batsmen play, and to all of South Africa’s enjoyment, he got his first five-wicket haul since 2018.
Keegan Petersen and Kyle Verreynne were finally given Test debuts and despite neither going on to make a notable contribution, they should remain in the team for the second Test. Petersen in particular was impressive in his short stay at the crease, scoring 19. As previously stated, Kyle Verreynne will make mistakes but he will learn from them, the only way that can happen though is with time in the middle, so please give him that, even if Temba Bavuma is fit. With this in mind, South Africa should keep a winning team going and make no changes to their playing XI for the next Test. Whether that happens will be another story.
An area of concern for South Africa is the form of the opening duo, Dean Elgar and Aiden Markram, who in their last 18 Test innings, have only scored 2 fifty-plus partnerships (both against a very depleted Sri Lankan bowling attack late last year). The opening partnership has essentially one job, see off the new ball. It’s not the easiest job, but it’s the job they chose, so they need to do it. With Dean Elgar as the captain now, and talking about wanting more Test centuries, it was disappointing on many levels to see him play a loose stroke in the very first over of the Proteas first innings of the first Test. What message does that send to the rest of the batting line-up?
The performance of the West Indies batting was quite honestly, poor. It was only Roston Chase in the second innings, who showed any resistance with a fine 62, but he needed support. West Indies have talented batsmen, who have proven themselves in the past. They are up against a formidable pace attack yes, but they have been picked as the best players in their side and they need to start batting like it. Too many of the WI batsman gave their wickets away and that was disappointing, to not see them fight.
All hope was not lost for the home side however, with the performance of debutant, 19-year-old Jayden Seales. With only one first-class game under his belt prior to the first Test the West Indies selectors saw something special in him and gave him a chance. He did not disappoint with 3-75 in his maiden Test innings, removing Markram, Petersen and Verreynne. He bowled with accuracy and gave the Proteas batsmen something to think about. It will be exciting to see how he goes in the second Test.
With the series on the line, West Indies will hope to put in a much better performance with the bat and ensure they do not lose a home series. South Africa on the other hand will hope to get their first away series win since March 2017 when they beat New Zealand in New Zealand 1-0.
The Test starts on Friday 18th June at 4pm, SA time, live only on SuperSport