West Indies coach Phil Simmons is looking to his improving pace attack to steer the side to a first-ever test series victory over South Africa when the teams start the first of two matches in St Lucia on Thursday.

The wicket at the Daren Sammy Cricket Ground looks as though it will suit the seamers, which is a strength of both sides, and according to Simmons provides his team with the best chance of bowling the tourists out twice.

“The improvement I would like to see for this series is our ability to take 20 wickets,” he told reporters.

“We did in Bangladesh on helpful pitches, and when the pitch was not helpful in Antigua (against Pakistan), we struggled.

“Our fast bowling department has been strong for long now. They are the ones that have kept us in matches, bowling out teams when it did not appear likely.”

South Africa are a team in transition having lost a number of senior players to retirement in recent years, especially in the batting department. But Simmons has warned his side not to be complacent.

“Any team you come up against, you have to look for where you can exploit them. They are very strong at the top with the captain (Dean Elgar) and then later down the order with guys like (Quinton) de Kock.

“We have to step it up and be 100% better than we were when we played our last game. We are up to six (in the test rankings) and that is just the start of things.

“We want to be up at the top and we have to play as though we want to be there.”

West Indies have won only three of their 28 tests against South Africa, the last victory in 2007. This will be the first time they have met in the longer format since 2015.

Cricket-Mushrooming T20 leagues a threat to international game – du Plessis

The proliferation of domestic Twenty20 leagues poses a threat to international cricket and the game must find a way to balance both, according to South Africa’s former captain Faf du Plessis.

All top cricket-playing nations – including Australia, India, England, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka – have their own T20 leagues. The West Indies, which groups several Caribbean islands and other territories, also has its own league.

“I think it’s a threat for the international game – the power of the leagues that are growing year by year,” du Plessis,
who is a familiar face in such franchise leagues himself and is in Abu Dhabi for the Pakistan Super League T20 competition, told a virtual news conference on Sunday.

“If it becomes a choice moving forward into the future, then it can be a real threat for the international game.”
Du Plessis pointed out how several West Indies players chose franchise cricket over national duty and felt several South African cricketers could go down that road.

“Maybe in 10 years’ time, cricket will be almost like soccer, where you have your world events and in between, you just have these leagues around the world,” the 36-year-old said.

“There needs to be a way somehow you can try and work with both.

“Otherwise, I think the strength of other tournaments is growing insanely quick at the moment. It is right now potentially a danger for international cricket.”

The batsman identified defending champions West Indies as the favourite at this year’s T20 World Cup to be organised by India.

“If you look at teams with good firepower and experience, you have to look at West Indies and the fact that they have brought back all their players, almost given them a directive to try and be the team that wins three times,” he said.

“All the guys you wouldn’t have seen playing much of international cricket will be back – Dwayne Bravo, Andre Russell.”