WEST Indies coach Phil Simmons knows that his players will have to bring their A game to defeat South Africa in the forthcoming Betway two-match Test series, bowling off at Darren Sammy Cricket Stadium in St Lucia, on Thursday.
After naming a 17-man provisional squad on Friday, the selection panel led by Roger Harper is expected to name a 13-man squad on Tuesday.
On Monday, speaking to journalists on Zoom, Simmons said, “It is always going to be hard against South Africa…they’ve got a quality team and we need to play even better than we played in our last four matches. No disrespect to the other teams we played against, but you know the quality that South Africa have and we just got to step it up.”
West Indies have been performing creditably in Test cricket in 2021. West Indies defeated Bangladesh 2-0 in their first series of the year away from home, before returning to the Caribbean to draw a two-match series 0-0 against Sri Lanka.
West Indies have now moved to sixth in the world Test rankings, a position the team wants to improve on.
“Getting to six is just the start of things. We want to be up at the top and we need to play like we want to be there,” Simmons said.
South Africa are currently ranked seventh, Sri Lanka eighth and Bangladesh ninth.
Despite being ranked higher than South Africa, Simmons said his team must prove that on the field.
“We are above South Africa (in the rankings), but that does not mean anything for me on Thursday morning…there is no underrating something because they are below us, but I know the guys are up for it.”
Simmons believes both teams have strong bowling attacks and said the team which takes advantage of their strength will emerge victoriously. He said fielding will also be crucial.
West Indies will be led by the fast bowling pair of Shannon Gabriel and Kemar Roach and South Africa will count on Kagiso Rabada.
The second Test match will be played from June 18-22 at the same venue.