Slow pitch expected to help medium-pacers
When Sri Lanka and New Zealand made the first foray by Full Members into cricket in Florida at the Central Broward Regional Park in 2010, many fans bought tickets hoping to see Lasith Malinga bowling bouncers and shattering stumps at 90 mph. However, the most lethal bowling on the weekend came in the form of cutters and canny changes of pace offered by medium pacers Scott Styris and Nuwan Kulasekera.
With the wicket expected to be on the slow side once again, West Indies assistant coach Toby Radford feels the conditions will be well-suited to be exploited by medium pace from the likes of captain Darren Sammy and all-rounder Dwayne Bravo.
"I think [Sammy] would like bowling on it," Radford said on Thursday. "The surface as it is, we believe it will grip a little bit, turn a little bit. So those bowlers with skill, Bravo the same, he's got a lot of clever little slower balls. So I think the Sammys, the Bravos could do a very good job on there. But I also think that it'll spin so someone like Sunil Narine who's a world-class spinner should enjoy bowling on it."
Both squads have had to adjust to sticky conditions since arriving at the start of the week, with temperatures above 90 degrees and 60% humidity making it slightly uncomfortable. It's a far cry from the conditions the West Indies dealt with on their recent tour of England.
"It's been a big change. It was a very cold and damp summer in England. We barely had four or five nice hot days in two months so to come here is a big change but for most of the West Indians I think they're at home in this."
While seven players in the New Zealand squad took part in the Twenty20 series against Sri Lanka at this venue two years ago, Marlon Samuels is the only player in the West Indies side who has had a chance to play a competitive match on this ground. Samuels was part of a Jamaica squad two years ago that played a series of matches against the USA as part of a double-header with the higher profile contests between Sri Lanka and New Zealand. For everyone else in the West Indies squad, Radford says they have been pleased with what they've experienced thus far on their first trip to Florida.
"The facility is excellent. Nice ground, nice oval. The pitch is very different obviously to what we've just been playing on the last couple of months in England. The nice time to bat on it will be against the new ball here and I do believe it will spin so probably batting in the middle will be a little bit more tricky than first up.
"I feel that the States and the people here are taking it seriously, which is great. I know that they've put a lot of work into getting this game on and hopefully it will be really well attended at the weekend and I think it'll do a great thing for cricket in America, so what we want to do is give those who do turn up here at the weekend a really good show and an enjoyable time here."
Peter Della Penna is a journalist based in New Jersey