West Indies v New Zealand, 2nd Twenty20, Florida July 2, 2012

New Zealand's lack of depth exposed

New Zealand's batting received a wake-up call ahead of the World Twenty20 in September

Three months after their last series at home against South Africa, New Zealand looked more than a little rusty against West Indies in the pair of Twenty20 matches played in Florida.

The New Zealand bowlers and fielders made an improved effort collectively to shave 32 runs off the total West Indies made the day before. Unfortunately, the same could not be said of the batsmen. New Zealand's highest score of the weekend was Rob Nicol's 32 in the first match on Saturday. Their top innings on Sunday was Daniel Flynn's 23 at No.5, as they struggled to come to grips with a pitch offering assistance to spinners. It was in stark contrast to the performance of the West Indies batsmen, Chris Gayle first and foremost, who made merry at the crease.

New Zealand were missing six key contributors - Daniel Vettori, Brendon McCullum, James Franklin, Jesse Ryder, Jacob Oram and regular captain Ross Taylor were out of the line-up for one reason or another. However, the New Zealand team management was hoping that some of the other players chosen in their place would step up. Instead, these matches exposed a lack of depth, especially in the batting.

Without McCullum, New Zealand's batting also looked one-dimensional with no one really threatening to punish the opposition with a flurry of sixes in the intimidating manner that Gayle, Kieron Pollard or Dwayne Bravo did for West Indies. New Zealand coach John Wright identified New Zealand's failures against spin and the ability of the West Indies batsmen to clear the ropes as key differences between the two sides and something that needed to be rectified by his side to compete on Sri Lankan tracks in the World Twenty20.

"With our batting we have to work really hard with our technique against spin because every time it's come on, it's slowed us down and we've lost wickets," Wright said. "So that's something we need to work cleverly at over the next week to get ourselves competitive. Then with our bowling, we just haven't been hitting the hole enough and they've been able to get under us and get over the boundary with these power-hitters. So we've got a lot of hard work."

Wright gave credit to West Indies for putting on a clinical all-round performance, but also conceded that it was difficult to adjust to conditions after such a lengthy lay-off.

"It's an enormous challenge," Wright said. "We've worked really hard here but it's obvious we've got a lot more work to do. The other thing is that you appreciate how difficult or tough West Indies are in their own conditions. It'll be interesting to see what conditions we strike in Jamaica, St. Kitts and Antigua."

Stand-in captain Kane Williamson was disappointed that the batting unit crumbled for 116 after posting 153 the day before. "It was nice to make an improvement as a unit in some ways with the bowling from yesterday but it was a shame going into the second innings not to really fire with the bat," Williamson said. "Touching on what John said it was probably that adapting to conditions where we sort of haven't done that, and at times in the subcontinent in the past we haven't as well so we have to learn quickly."

With the first of five ODIs coming up on Thursday in Jamaica, New Zealand have to find a way to regroup quickly. "I think it's a matter of all of us taking responsibility - our support staff, our players," Wright said. "We improved a little bit with our bowling today but we're still getting put over the fence so we've got to work on that aspect of our game and our batting particularly against a couple of spinners. I feel if we get in some good practice time and we get some players who are spending a little bit of time at the wicket, that will help us a lot."

Peter Della Penna is a journalist based in New Jersey

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Jordan on July 3, 2012, 8:01 GMT

    I agree with everything Flighted_kiwi has said. One day Guptill will mature to be a batsman that the entire world of bowlers fear - it's just a matter of time. Nicol, Latham, and even Flynn, who I didn't rate before now, all have the same potential. Williamson is a star in the making and seeing him get named captain (and doing a good job of it as well), even if it was through injury, has made me proud to think I've met the man. We have a good strong depth of bowlers coming through, and I somehow think the arrival of Nethula will help NZ. He can help everybody else work out Narine's tricks and he's a lot better than a lot of people think. Oram was always going to be injured and Brownlie's a better test player.

  • Lily on July 3, 2012, 0:25 GMT

    @Lermy Brownlie's not a T20 player, obviously a better test player. New Zealand are missing 6 key players, and the West Indies have a great team at the moment. New Zealand are almost playing a second string team, and a lot of our players are far better than they showed here. Some warm up games would have been much better for the Black Caps, and it was always going to be a one sided contest with one team much better prepared.

  • Dummy4 on July 2, 2012, 20:44 GMT

    I think this NZ side needs a bit of time to settle in. NZ has always been a talented side. But with No Vettori,no brendon,no oram,no taylor[injuries],franklin,ryder in the 2 T20s,they looked really weak. The margin of defeat was huge. I know ryder is a spoilt guy but the lad is too talented to be dropped. Hope he comes back into the side because he's much better than some of the blokes who are playing for NZ right now. But I'm sure with all top guns back,NZ will again look good.

  • shahadat on July 2, 2012, 20:21 GMT

    buchanan must be an awful coach, first kolkata night ryder and now NZ team-- his formula never works

  • Kevin on July 2, 2012, 20:06 GMT

    Have my doubts about Brownlie despite going OK against Oz. Looked far from convincing against SA, and also here. Another Matthew Sinclair in the making, in fact I think MS is probably the better player. At least at the rate players are injuring themselves Jesse Ryder should get an emergency call-up, assuming they can get him out of the bar... ...oh that's right, hes never gonna touch drink again (again). NZ should have a pre-tour series with their own best players. Those that perform best, get picked, end of story. That would guarantee hard cricket leading up to a tour, with form players going. Can someone tell me why Southee is being used as the pinch hitter?? I have to pinch myself to believe it!!! He hit some sixes ten years ago and someone figures he must be due to hit another one soon!! Heres hoping!

  • Dummy4 on July 2, 2012, 17:17 GMT

    No Ryder, McCullum, Franklin, Oram, Taylor spells disaster for NZ, or is this Buchanan's build up to the T20 WC. Wake up boys... only the best XI must do!!!

  • Rhonda on July 2, 2012, 16:59 GMT

    @jackthelad, glum? Why? Because we held Australia to two series draws but lost to England? Well, from what I can see, so have every other top ranked team. West Indies is well below England in every format, so given the weather and the lack of key players, why is West Indies future glum, but New Zealand's not when they lose to a lower ranked team on a pitch that held no terrors?

  • Robert on July 2, 2012, 14:55 GMT

    'Missing six key players' is good - in fact, more or less missing their first-choice team. There's not much to be read either way from this little festival, about New Zealand's lack of depth (take the six best players out of any team and I reckon they'd struggle) or about West Indies immediate future prospects, which look glum at best. The games were a 'friendship and PR' exercise aimed at penetrating an impermeable American market, and nothing more.

  • Mark on July 2, 2012, 11:46 GMT

    This is lazy journalism. Every time a team gets well beaten like this we get the tired old 'lack of depth' argument. Players like Guptil, Nicol, McCullum, Brownlie & Williamson are better players than they showed here. And there are other good players with lots of potential but there are several factors that put them behind the 8 ball. First is lack of match play - thats not an excuse but a reality. The WI were much better prepared. The answer was in NZ's hands tho & why NZC cricket doesn't arrange some pre tour games somewhere is beyond me. The coaching fiasco is another distraction. But the main factor is that however good & much potential the average NZ first class player has, the brevity of our playing season compared with many other countries means they don't get enough cricket to hone their skills. Plus the international programme favours the big 4 - India, SA, Australia & Eng who prefer to be big fish in a little pond than have a truly strong global international game.

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