If only it wasn't a whitewash
Christchurch - The West Indian cricketers made a gallant attempt to win the last match of their tour of New Zealand before 15 000 spectators at Jade Stadium on Tuesday (Monday night Caribbean time).
But instead, they completed a 0-5 defeat in the One Day Internationals and signed off their expedition as the 'if only' tour.
A 170-run third-wicket stand from Roger Twose (97) and Nathan Astle (85) led the super-confident New Zealanders to a 50-over total of 302 for six wickets.
And if only West Indies had played with a little more care they might have done better than scoring 282 when Courtney Walsh fell to the second-last ball of the 50th over.
So the tour finished as the international matches started: New Zealand a more thorough team in terms of scoring runs and taking wickets and generally organising their cricket like polished professionals; West Indies building their tactics on too-varied selections, wrong tactical directions and, in the end, a comparable overall lack of experience and skill.
If only ...
If only the West Indies had not thought the first Test was already won when they scored 282 for one on the first day.
If only Brian Lara had been bold enough to bat first on an uncertain pitch, on which New Zealand lived in luxury and won the second Test with a day and an innings to spare.
If only West Indies had a better appreciation of their players' One Day potentials.
The evidence was plain that Reon King and Courtney Walsh should have been the essential new-ball bowlers; that Ricardo Powell's brilliance would only shine in a properly prepared innings; that Lara was several times guilty of casting away his wicket, and that Adrian Griffith's form in the fifth One-Dayer last night made one wonder why he had been left on the batting shelf for so long.
Rather too many of these 'if onlys' came home to roost last night, and especially the fact that if the top half of the West Indian batting had been well organised they might well have climbed the mountain and beaten New Zealand, rather than fallen 22 runs short in what became only a gallant failure.
Again, the hosts' batting seemed the better organised, and showed the West Indians how best to take advantage of a fast outfield and a hard, true pitch.
New Zealand lost Craig Spearman very quickly and when Stephen Fleming was caught from an untidy drive at Nehemiah Perry (making a brief early appearance) they might have been excused if they rebuilt their defensive position.
Instead, Twose immediately played his attacking strokes, Astle became his lieutenant and for the next 27 overs the two mixed their batting skilfully: strong attacking strokes among canny ones and twos.
Lara had a problem when Mervyn Dillon went lame and limped through his ten overs, but then got his bowling tactics mixed when he did not use King - the West Indies' most effective bowler on tour - until halfway through the innings.
Twose went at 205 for three, 97 runs from 90 balls, 11 fours and two sixes. Then spare-time slow bowler Sherwin Campbell had Astle superbly caught by Lara at 217 for four, after Astle had scored 95 from 109 balls, eight fours and a six.
Nimble batting by Chris Harris, Chris Cairns and Craig McMillan got New Zealand past the 300-mark.
West Indies started badly, Ridley Jacobs hitting Cairns' first ball for four, and second to Twose who held the catch after some fumbling.
Griffith and Shivnarine Chanderpaul batted sturdily, but Lara should have been at No. 3.
The pitch was easy, Dion Nash was not playing because of a back strain, Cairns was plainly unwell and managed only four overs, for 31 runs. The New Zealand bowling was ripe for plucking by a world-class player of Lara's stature.
Griffith and Chanderpaul did maul the early bowling, but Lara should have been in eight overs before he arrived, at 58 for two.
He and Griffith maintained the attack, past 100 in the 15th over. Now the game was in the balance, as New Zealand fell back on the semi-defensive bowling of Harris and Daniel Vettori.
But Lara and Griffith did not manage their attack expertly. At 102 Griffith hit a catch from Scott Styris down Spearman's throat at deep mid-wicket.
Lara ripped the field apart with some brilliant boundaries, including two to deep mid-wicket in one over from Harris. Not satisfied with that, Lara tried for another four in the same over from the same shot. Harris predictably bowled a little shorter, and the catch went straight to Twose at deep mid-on.
Adams and Campbell then dug in. They did not hit any fours, and seemed only capable of getting ones and twos. But they scored steadily, and safely - just the kind of cool-headed tactics that the earlier batsmen might have used.
Just when they were picking up the scoring Harris struck two critical blows - having Adams caught with the score at 164 in his last over, and then hitting the stumps from side-on to run out Powell. This was the beginning of the end for West Indies, at 167 for six in the 31st over.
Perry and Campbell soldiered along stoically, but West Indies lacked a boundary-hitter in the Powell mould.
So the hosts gradually tightened the screws, and it became obvious that West Indies did not have the lower-order batting firepower to chase a target rate that soared up to nine and then ten runs an over.
Campbell was finally winkled out at 261 for nine wickets, his 71 coming from 87 balls and containing only two fours and a six.
There was a dramatic touch when Walsh put a flourish on his last innings in New Zealand by hitting a four and two magnificent straight sixes.
But by then the New Zealand victory was a certainty, and they went on to become the only side other than West Indies (who did it four times) to make a 5-0 clean sweep of a One Day series.