Gibson hopeful over bowlers' actions
Ottis Gibson, the West Indies coach, is optimistic that Shane Shillingford and Marlon Samuels will receive positive news on their bowling actions following tests conducted in Perth, but it is not yet certain whether Shillingford will play in the opening Test against New Zealand after what Gibson conceded had been a tough time for the pair.
Samuels is all but certain to line up in the middle order as his primary role is with bat rather than ball, but Gibson wants more time to assess Shillingford's mindset before making the final decision over which frontline spin option to go for in Dunedin.
Although both players are free to continue their international careers pending the report on their actions - which is expected in 14 days - the cloud surrounding them has taken its toll. Sunil Narine, who was a late addition to the squad, and left-arm spinner Veerasammy Permaul are the other slow bowlers available.
"When we travelled back on the plane we spoke about it. It's tough for them, but I thought they coped with it quite well and will definitely come into the reckoning for this Test," Gibson said. "Marlon bats for us more so than bowls so it shouldn't be an issue for him, but with Shane I'll speak to him again tonight and see how he is. He'll have a good training session tomorrow and we'll judge from there which of the spinners will play."
Shillingford, Samuels and Gibson only arrived in Dunedin on Sunday morning - shortly before West Indies' first training session of the tour - having travelled directly to Perth after the one-day series in India. Both players had their actions reported during the second Test against India, in Mumbai, and the ICC regulations required them to be tested within 21 days.
"The initial feedback from the people doing the testing was positive," Gibson said. "The ICC set these rules or guidelines and the players have adhered to everything they were asked to do. We get a report in 14 days and we hope it's a positive one so the players can put the episode behind them and focus on their cricket."
West Indies will be desperate for Shillingford to be mentally ready for the Test otherwise they will have an even more threadbare attack.Tino Best will be partnered by either Shannon Gabriel (four Tests) or Sheldon Cottrell (one Test) with Darren Sammy as third seamer and Gibson has put the onus on Best to shoulder the responsibility.
"It's a good chance for Tino to show his leadership, he's been around international since 2002, and with Kemar [Roach] and Ravi [Rampaul] missing he can show his true self. He's a quality bowler and will have to step up on this trip so the young bowlers can feed off him."
The members of West Indies' squad who arrived from the one-day series in India are still struggling to shake off jetlag (and a temperature change of about 20 degrees). Coupled with the inexperience of the squad - only two, Shivnarine Chanderpaul and Denesh Ramdin, have previously toured New Zealand - it has made for a haphazard build-up for a team that does not have a record of travelling well but Gibson has urged his players to not look for excuses.
"The biggest problem at the moment is getting everyone sleeping properly," Gibson admitted. "They are still up at 2-3 am. It's been a bit disjointed but it's up to us to accept that, that's all I'm asking the guys to do - forget about the flights and stuff and focus on the cricket. The easy thing to do would be to sit back and blame the fact that we didn't have much preparation but we've played a lot of cricket."
To add to the problems, Kraigg Brathwaite, the replacement for Chris Gayle, has still not arrived in New Zeland due to what is understood to be visa issues. It is hoped he will join on Monday, but with just 24 hours to prepare for a Test it seems highly unlikely he will be a viable candidate for the top order meaning that Kirk Edwards, who played his previous Test against England at Trent Bridge in May 2012, would partner Kieran Powell.
Andrew McGlashan is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo