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South Africa v West Indies

A brief history

by Martin Williamson

1992 (West Indies)
The first official meeting of the two sides, although rebel West Indies teams had toured South Africa twice in the 1980s. Coming less than a year after their return from exile, South Africa were expected to struggle against a strong West Indies side, and yet they dominated the first three days of the one-off Test at Sabina Park, and at the start of day four West Indies were 183 for 7 in their second innings, a lead of only 101. But Jimmy Adams led a recovery, although South Africa still only needed 201 to win, and at 122 for 2 at the end of the day they were coasting. The next morning, Walsh (4 for 31) grabbed 4 for 8 in 11 overs on an uneven pitch, and Ambrose mopped up the tail as South Africa lost their last eight wickets for 25.
Tests: West Indies 1 South Africa 0
ODIs: West Indies 3 South Africa 0

1998-99 (South Africa)
The tour started badly for West Indies when a pay dispute meant half the side arrived in South Africa while the others remained in London in last-ditch discussions with the board. Lara, the captain, admitted at the end of the series that his side "weren't together as a team," a massive understatement. On the pitch the side, who had lost 0-3 in Pakistan months earlier, were outplayed in every department. The first two Tests were low-scoring affairs which South Africa edged, but at Durban they won by nine wickets and knocked the remaining stuffing out of the tourists. The fourth Test at Cape Town belonged to Kallis who scored 110 and 88* and took 5 for 90 in a 149-run win, and the series whitewash was completed inside four days at Centurion. The one-day series was equally one-sided, although West Indies did level at 1-1 when Chanderpaul (150) and Hooper (108) posted 228 for the fourth wicket at East London. In the remaining five matches, South Africa's margins of victory - 55, 99, 89, 114 and 50 runs - underlined the paucity of the tourists' batting.
Tests: South Africa 5, West Indies 0
ODIs: South Africa 6, West Indies 1

2000-01 (West Indies)
Statistically, South Africa's victory in the Test series was surprising as West Indies had only lost one home series in 28 years. But the reality was that West Indies were in steep decline - they came into this series on the back of a 0-5 whitewash in Australia - while South Africa were on the up. Carl Hooper replaced Jimmy Adams as West Indies captain, a decision which caused much unease in some circles, and although they performed better, they were still outclassed, especially in the one-dayers. After a draw on a slow Georgetown pitch, West Indies looked to be on course for victory in Trinidad after being set 232, but in front of a fifth-day crowd of 12,000 they slipped to 19 for 4 and lost by 69 runs. At Bridgetown, West Indies clung on to a draw (Wisden accused them of blatant time wasting) but lost the series in Antigua where only Lara scored more than 30. They gained a consolation win at Kingston, a fitting farewell for Courtney Walsh whose six wickets took his series tally to 25 and his career figure to a world record of 519. The one-day series started well for the home side with a last-ball victory in Jamaica, but soon assumed an all too familiar pattern.
Tests: West Indies 1 South Africa 2
ODIs: West Indies 2 South Africa 5

A younger West Indies side came to South Africa on the back of a 1-0 series win in Zimbabwe (only after they scraped a draw in the first Test) and a 3-2 victory in the one-day series after being two down. Technical deficiencies hinted at in Zimbabwe were ruthlessly exposed by South Africa, and a string of injuries raised questions over other aspects of the team's preparation. The ground fielding and catching was also often lamentable. At Johannesburg, Lara's 202 could not prevent a 189-run defeat, and at Durban, South Africa rattled up 658 for 9 with Gibbs, Kallis and Kirsten all making big hundreds in an innings win. After a draw on a perfect Cape Town pitch which yielded 1648 runs for 28 wickets, South Africa again passed 600 in the fourth Test at Centurion. Kallis ended the series with 712 runs at 178.00 while Ntini grabbed 29 wickets. West Indies never recovered from hammerings in the first two ODIs, although the final game was a cracker as they scored 304 for 2 ... and still lost by four wickets.
Tests: South Africa 3 West Indies 0
ODIs: South Africa 3 West Indies 1

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