Samuels seeks to cement his place

Marlon Samuels is hoping his performance in the first Test against South Africa will help to cement his long-term place in the side. The 26-year-old West Indies batsman was named man of the match after innings of 94 and 40 in the tourists' surprise 128-run victory at St George's Park last week. And Samuels is eager to produce another good display when the second Test gets under way here today.

"Test cricket is very difficult and I would love to get a chance to play more Test matches back to back, instead of being in and then out of the side so often," Samuels said yesterday. "It will give me the chance of getting better scores more regularly and being more consistent."

Samuels has struggled with consistency during his West Indies career, with the right-hander having averaged just 27.30 from 24 Tests going into last week's opener. Although he was disappointed not to get his second Test century in Port Elizabeth, Samuels is happy as long as the team get the right result.

"I was very disappointed that I didn't get the century, but if I could score 94 and the West Indies go on to win every time, I'll be satisfied," he added. "I had spoken to the groundsman at St George's during the Twenty20 match and he told me that not a lot of runs are scored there in first-class cricket. So I made up my mind from then to put my head down and get what I wanted from the match and it actually turned out how I wanted it to."

Samuels also reserved special praise for the leadership of the West Indies captain, Chris Gayle. "Whenever you have a good leader who motivates people and doesn't discourage them, that person, to me, is a true leader and will always get support," he said. "When Chris talks to you, it is in a way that you take the positive from it."

The South Africa coach, Mickey Arthur, believes the heavy defeat in the opening Test of the three-match series was just a blip and remains confident his team will bounce back in Cape Town. "We've won four Test series in a row," Arthur said. "We intend to win this one too. The bowling attack has led us to victory in the last four Tests we've played, and don't forget they bowled the West Indies out for 175 in the second innings. We had one bad innings and that happens to teams from time to time."

Neil McKenzie has been drafted into the side to boost the batting. He is expected to replace Herschelle Gibbs, who bagged a pair in the first Test. The veteran bowler Shaun Pollock is also expected to return, having missed the last four Tests following a dip in form for the Proteas.

Graeme Smith, South Africa's captain, said he was confident his team would give a better account of themselves in the second Test. "We had a very good training session yesterday, and we seem to be hitting our straps again," he said. "Hopefully, it's just about executing and getting things right out in the middle. We know we're capable of it, we've proven our worth. We know we're going to play this game under pressure, and we know we can play a lot better than we did in Port Elizabeth."

The Cape Town pitch has come in for criticism in the past, but Smith likes what he has seen this time. "It looks like a pretty good surface, it probably has the best covering of grass I've seen at Newlands for a while," he said. "It has been a bit patchy in the last couple of years, but this pitch looks pretty good. It looks like it might take a bit of spin later in the game.

South Africa (from): G C Smith (captain), H H Gibbs, H M Amla, J H Kallis, A B de Villiers, M V Boucher, S M Pollock, A G Prince, N D McKenzie, A Nel, P L Harris, D W Steyn, M Ntini.

West Indies (from): C H (captain), D J Bravo, P A Browne, S Chanderpaul, P T Collins, F H Edwards, D Ganga, R N Lewis, R So Morton, B A Parchment, D B Powell, D Ramdin, D J G Sammy, M N Samuels, D S Smith, J E Taylor.

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