New Zealand v West Indies, 1st Test, Dunedin December 2, 2013

NZ favourites against struggling WI


Match Facts

Tuesday December 3, 2013, Dunedin
Start time 10.30am (2130GMT previous day)

The Big Picture

New Zealand ended their previous home season with the crushing disappointment of being denied a series victory over England by one wicket as Matt Prior and Monty Panesar played out the final few, fraught moments in Auckland. Since then it has been a trying time for them, but they begin their new season with a series they should be confident of winning ahead of the sterner challenge of India's visit.

If West Indies had been at full strength - with the likes of Chris Gayle and Kemar Roach available - the teams would have been almost level-pegging at the start, but home advantage and a stronger seam attack make New Zealand the early favourites. However, their Test cricket is far from consistent enough to make that anything more than a speculative judgement.

West Indies barely competed in India and the shoe-horned in tour has meant slap-dash preparation for this series, limited to a mix-and-match warm-up game where New Zealand domestic players appeared in the same side as West Indians and a couple of days' training in Dunedin. If it was a Test series decided on how many layers were being worn, West Indies would be winning.

If they start badly in the first Test - and their warm-up period makes that a distinct possibility - the series could unravel for them, but at least it is three Test matches rather than the token two so often see around the world nowadays.

New Zealand showed many positive signs when England visited in March, top of the list being the performances of Tim Southee, Trent Boult and Neil Wagner who comprehensively outbowled the visiting seamers. Their spin bowling and top-order batting remain unsteady, though. Daniel Vettori and Jesse Ryder may return later in the season, but this series came too soon.

Form guide

(Most recent first)

New ZealandDDLLD
West Indies LLWWW

Watch out for

Hamish Rutherford burst into the Test scene at this ground in March with 171 against England, but since then has not been able to raise his bat for a milestone. Firstly he struggled against the moving ball in England then against the spinning one in Bangladesh but he does possess the game to take apart a thin West Indies pace attack. However, the recall of Aaron Redmond to the New Zealand squad is also notice to Rutherford that he won't be able to live on his dazzling debut for much longer.

The second coming of Marlon Samuels as a Test cricketer has produced some outstanding innings, lifting his average from 28.73 when he was banned in 2008 to 36.74 as it stands now. He is a vital part of the middle order with the game to counter-attack and rebuild, a position he has often found himself in. For West Indies' sake it must be hoped that the renewed controversy over his bowling action does not distract from his main task.

Team news

Kane Williamson has not recovered sufficiently from his broken thumb so Aaron Redmond will bat at No.3. Doug Bracewell is the pace bowler to miss out although Brendon McCullum did say that some thought had been given to four quicks. However, Williamson's absence means that Ish Sodhi's leg spin becomes their lone slow-bowling option.

New Zealand 1 Hamish Rutherford, 2 Peter Fulton, 3 Aaron Redmond, 4 Ross Taylor, 5 Brendon McCullum (capt), 6 Corey Anderson, 7 BJ Watling (wk), 8 Ish Sodhi, 9 Tim Southee, 10 Neil Wagner, 11 Trent Boult

West Indies need to decide who supports Tino Best; Shannon Gabriel played in Mumbai so is the man in possession or the other option is left-arm Sheldon Cottrell. Ottis Gibson will assess whether Shane Shillingford is in the right mindset for a Test after having his action reported. Kraigg Brathwaite has still not arrived due to visa issues.

West Indies (probable) 1 Kieran Powell, 2 Kirk Edwards, 3 Darren Bravo, 4 Marlon Samuels, 5 Shivnarine Chanderpaul, 6 Narsingh Deonarine, 7 Denesh Ramdin (wk), 8 Darren Sammy (capt), 9 Shane Shillingford, 10 Tino Best, 11 Shannon Gabriel

Pitch and conditions

Having become unnerved by the brevity of some first-class matches at University Oval, the Test surfaces here have verged on the flat in recent encounters. England managed to bat out two days to save the Test in March. This time there is a suggestion of more life in the pitch with a healthy covering of grass being left on, perhaps because of West Indies' spin bowling being a strength. West Indies will be pleased that the mercury is due to rise into the mid-20s with a very good forecast for the first four days of the match.

Stats and trivia

  • Shivnarine Chanderpaul, who needs 37 runs to reach 11,000, has 150 Test caps, the rest of West Indies' squad has 260 between them.

  • Chanderpaul will be one of three survivors from the 2008 Test between these sides at University Oval, along with Ross Taylor and Brendon McCullum

  • Ish Sodhi, the New Zealand legspinner, has never bowled a ball at University Oval


"We are playing good cricket, we just need to start putting some results together. We know we need to start getting those wins and that starts here."
Brendon McCullum is aware that talking a good game can only last so long

"Today's lovely, it's back like the Caribbean now so hopefully the weather can be like this for the five days."
Denesh Ramdin was pleased to feel the weather warm up in Dunedin

Andrew McGlashan is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dummy4 on December 2, 2013, 21:46 GMT

    West Indies's pace attack looks nonthreatening. They will be missing guys like Roach, Edwards and Rampaul. NZ will start off as favorites as they are playing at home and have a slightly better side, mainly because of their pace attack. Williamson's absence will surely hurt the team as he is a fine batsman and one of the rare consistent batsmen for the Kiwis. Hoping for a good, competitive series here.

  • dexter on December 2, 2013, 21:01 GMT

    Hope the New Zealand fans come out and support their team in some form of respectable numbers fot this game and throughout the series. The venue for the first test match is not that big its only 6000 in capacity the other 2 test match venues are not much bigger please New Zealand people show your patriotism and support your team please.

  • Sanjay on December 2, 2013, 20:50 GMT

    If you read the comments of the West Indies fans here, you'll see they make far more sense than the WI selectors.

    Then again, as I wrote in another comment, today's media really frustrate me. They should be asking the WI management why players such as Rampaul are missing from this squad. Perhaps, there are justifiable reasons but keeping the fans in the dark is poor PR esp in this day and age.

  • Ali on December 2, 2013, 20:12 GMT

    I am confused? Is Rampaul Injured ? without Roach why do the selectors continually drop the 2nd best bowler on the team ! Rampaul is actually the #1 bowler in the sub-continent . He has a better record in India than Roach... and He was snubbed in India for the Tests and here in New Zealand he is left out of the Tests again ...

    and the thing is the pitches in New Zealand suit Rampaul ....

    So strange .. It is almost like the WI selectors are a bunch of people who never played Test Cricket and have no idea what they are doing .,..

    (oh wait THEY ARE a bunch of people who never played Test cricket and think they know better than Chanderpaul, Jeff Du Jon, Jimmy Adams,Clive Llyod, Ian Bishop and Micheal Holding )

  • stewey on December 2, 2013, 19:46 GMT

    there are no favourites in this series. It really boils down to who will come out better off. Woe to the team that gives a dismal performance.

  • Dummy4 on December 2, 2013, 19:34 GMT

    Hope to see Jesse Ryder back soon for NZ, and Rampaul, Roach, Gayle and Sarwan back for West Indies. Picking 3 spinners and 3 quicks, of which two are rookies, for an early season series in New Zealand, joke of a selection by West Indies!

  • ken on December 2, 2013, 19:25 GMT

    It is amazing how WI find it necessary to have three spinners on this tour but two for the just concluded Indian tour. The thought pattern of our selectors is supernaturally endowed. Surely other humans haven't attained to such glories hence their perplexities.

    New Zeland are favourites here because the WI selectors continue to get it wrong.

  • Paulo on December 2, 2013, 19:21 GMT

    Hopefully Williamson will recover soon. In Rutherford and Williamson, New Zealand have to excellent young batsmen. Trent Boult is a good young bowler. Haven't seen a lot of Corey Anderson and Ish Sodhi. Good young New Zealand crop.

    Not sure that Chris Gayle would help the WI team.

    Johnson Charles should not be anywhere near the WI test team. He has a first class average of 18!

  • Dummy4 on December 2, 2013, 17:37 GMT

    @rayinto: WI are beset by lots of injuries (Roach and Gayle begin the two biggest names), lack of form from Samuels, and bad selection with their best (fit) swing bowler in Rampaul not being selected. To further highlight the selection issue: there are 3 specialist spinners selected for this tour, and only 3 specialist fast bowlers (with a total of 5 games between 2 of them). The absence of Roach and Rampaul means that their fast bowling arsenal is non-existent, being lead by the mercurial Best.

    That being said, this series should be closely contested with the edge going to the team who can negotiate the conditions better (NZ, in this case).

  • Douglas on December 2, 2013, 14:29 GMT

    New Zealand has not won any of their last fave games while West Indies 3 of 5 ( be it against Bangladesh) - so how is New Zealand favorites?

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