Keegan Petersen of the Hollywoodbets Dolphins. Picture: GALLO IMAGES/DARREN STEWART
Keegan Petersen of the Hollywoodbets Dolphins. Picture: GALLO IMAGES/DARREN STEWART

The Proteas will hand a debut to middle-order batsman Keegan Petersen as they seek solutions to a brittle top six line-up in the first Test of a two-match series against West Indies in St Lucia on Thursday.

The tourists have a dominant record against their hosts, who have won only three of their previous 28 matches, though recent Tests have been rare with this only the second series in a decade.

Ailing SA got past 300 just twice in their last 19 Test innings having lost stalwart batsmen to international retirement, including most recently Faf du Plessis after their 2-0 series defeat in Pakistan in February.

They have slipped to No 7 in the ICC World Rankings, their joint lowest yet position and below the West Indies.

Petersen has had to wait patiently after being involved in the squad for much of the past two years without getting in the starting XI.

“I’ve been nervous for a while now,” he told reporters. “It gives me goose bumps thinking about it. I know I will have big boots to fill.

“This is what we dream of as kids. Eventually, when the dream becomes a reality, it gives your system a bit of a shock.

“I’ve been around, so for me to get a go in the side means a lot because I know where I’ve come from and I know the journey has been tough and long. But this is what we work for.”

West Indies have gained momentum in their four Tests this year, including a 2-0 series win in Bangladesh and consecutive draws at home to Sri Lanka in which they were largely on top but thwarted by flat batting wickets.

Teenage fast bowler Jayden Seales from Trinidad & Tobago received a call-up to the 13-man squad after injury forced the experienced Shannon Gabriel out, while batsmen Shai Hope, who was dropped last year, and Kieran Powell make a comeback, with spinning all-rounder Roston Chase.

Seales has only played a single first-class game in his young career, and is viewed as a hot future prospect with his pace. He could form a seam quartet with Kemar Roach, Jason Holder and Alzarri Joseph. Rahkeem Cornwall is likely to be the spinning option.

Reuters

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