West Indies v New Zealand, 2nd Test, Port-of-Spain

A rare away start as favourites for New Zealand

The Preview by Siddarth Ravindran

June 15, 2014

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Jamaica was a tough test for me- Kemar Roach

Match facts

June 16-20, 2014, Port of Spain
Start time 1000 (1400 GMT)


Mark Craig took the best figures for a New Zealand debutant, West Indies v New Zealand, 1st Test, Kingston, 4th day, June 11, 2014
Mark Craig will have to prove that his performance in the Kingston Test was not a one-off © Associated Press
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Big Picture

It's not often that New Zealand find themselves starting away Tests as favourites. But their near-perfect performance in Jamaica, and West Indies' hapless recent showings confer Brendon McCullum's men that unfamiliar status. Nearly everything they hoped for happened at Sabina Park - they got to bat first on a benign surface and racked up a score above the 450 they usually target, their inexperienced spinners thrived and there were significant contributions from a wide range of players as they remained on top right through the Test.

One of their biggest problems during the superb recent run in Test matches has been a serious shortage of runs from their openers, but even that changed in Jamaica as Tom Latham put together two battling half-centuries in what was only his second Test. Their talented pace attack has been their biggest strength in the past couple of years, and with the middle-order regularly churning out centuries and even the spinners chipping in with wickets, New Zealand will fancy their chances of winning their first away Test series against a top-eight opposition since 2002.

Two years ago when these teams faced off in the Caribbean, West Indies had swept aside New Zealand on their way to a six-Test winning run that lifted them to No. 5 in the rankings. Since that run, though, West Indies have lost three Tests by an innings, one by eight wickets, another by 186 runs and averted defeat in the remaining match only due to an over-my-dead-body double-century from Darren Bravo and rain.

Before the series began, West Indies made the big change of bringing in a new captain, dispensing with Darren Sammy. Then they revamped the bowling for the first Test, with Sulieman Benn, Kemar Roach and Jerome Taylor making their comeback. For this game, it is the batting that is getting an overhaul, with Marlon Samuels and Kieran Powell left out and Kirk Edwards battling for his place. Will the large-scale changes bring about a turn in their fortunes?

Form guide

(Most recent first)
West Indies LLLDL
New Zealand WDWWW

Watch out for

Mark Craig was a little-known offspinner with a middling record when New Zealand's selectors punted on him for the Caribbean tour. He responded with four-wicket hauls in each innings of his debut Test at Sabina Park to win the Man-of-the-Match award and set up a famous victory. "I know Mark's a good bowler, but I didn't quite think he'd quite be as calm as he was from ball one," New Zealand coach Mike Hesson said. "I thought it would take him a bit of time to settle, but he settled in right from the start and bowled a great first over and he was away." Now the job for Craig is to prove that Jamaica wasn't a one-off performance.

It's not very often that New Zealand's spinners outbowl their counterparts in a Test. Sulieman Benn had complained about the flat nature of the Sabina Park track after the second day, only for West Indies to lose 20 wickets over the next two days. West Indies' spinners need to turn in an improved performance in the second Test, despite facing bigger challenges; Shane Shillingford was nursing a niggle on the eve of the game and racing to get fit, and the track is expected to be more pacer-friendly. Still, whoever does play needs to do more against a line-up that is not traditionally known for its prowess against the turning ball.

Team news

New Zealand have already made one change to their side - dropping the woefully out of form Peter Fulton, and bringing in Hamish Rutherford. Depending on the nature of the track, they will also take a call on whether to pick an extra quick for the spinner Ish Sodhi.

New Zealand: (probable) 1 Tom Latham, 2 Hamish Rutherford, 3 Kane Williamson, 4 Ross Taylor, 5 Brendon McCullum (capt), 6 Jimmy Neesham, 7 BJ Watling (wk), 8 Neil Wagner/Ish Sodhi, 9 Tim Southee, 10 Mark Craig , 11 Trent Boult

Shane Shillingford has a niggle, Ramdin said on the eve of the Test, so the team would have to wait on his fitness.* Either way, he said, he is mulling playing the extra quick. With Darren Sammy retired, and Dwayne Bravo injured, they are struggling to find an allrounder for the Test side. West Indies' batting will have at least two changes as a result of the changes to their squad; Ramdin said he might play one of the two batsmen who were brought in after doing well for the Sagicor High Performance Centre, Jermaine Blackwood and Leon Johnson.

West Indies: (probable) 1 Chris Gayle, 2 Kraigg Brathwaite, 3 Kirk Edwards, 4 Darren Bravo, 5 Shivnarine Chanderpaul, 6 Leon Johnson, 7 Denesh Ramdin (capt & wk), 8 Sulieman Benn, 9 Jerome Taylor, 10 Kemar Roach, 11 Shane Shillingford/Shannon Gabriel

Pitch and conditions

On Sunday, Kane Williamson suggested that there might be a bit more in it for the quicks than Kingston. Kemar Roach also said the pitch would aid the seamers, while Denesh Ramdin said he expected good carry for the bowlers on this track. "A bit more grass than Jamaica. The ball will edge and go to the slips area," Ramdin said. Temperatures are expected to be in the low 30s, and rain is predicted over the next week.

Stats and trivia

  • Shivnarine Chanderpaul is tied with Steve Waugh on 46 unbeaten Test innings, the most by a specialist batsman. There are six others ahead of him in the overall list, but all of them are tailenders, including quintessential ones like Chris Martin, Muttiah Muralitharan and Courtney Walsh.
  • The only person to score hundreds in his first three Tests is former India captain Mohammad Azharuddin. Jimmy Neesham can emulate him if he makes a century in Port-of-Spain.
  • The player to have bowled the most overs in Test cricket in the current West Indies squad is Chris Gayle, with 1154.5 overs.

Quotes

"Adapting to the conditions was a focus and something we did very well in the first Test, something we want to continue doing well in this series."
Kane Williamson

*3.45GMT, June 16: The team news was updated after Denesh Ramdin spoke on the eve of the game

Siddarth Ravindran is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

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© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by BlakeHoulihan on (June 16, 2014, 15:22 GMT)

@NikkaChun - I liked your earlier analogy of selecting your best eleven players as if you are playing a cricket computer game. If this were a computer game, I'd agree with you. But this is real Test Match Cricket and you need more than "simply a good technique" (your words) to be a good opening batsman. Why have we struggled to find good openers if it were that simple? NZ Cricket has consistently failed in this area, but we still have batsmen with good techniques don't we? Test Match Cricket is about putting players in the position they are best at (and ideally the position they feel the most comfortable in). If Baz thought he should open, he would (you know, being the captain and all). Look at Ross Taylors stats either side of Four. Clarke bats at lower down the order for Aus for a reason, Rogers opens for a reason. But who is the better batsman? Clarke. Who is the better opener? Rogers. (Continued next comment)

Posted by weasel_zapper on (June 16, 2014, 15:12 GMT)

Hope Rutherford goes ok, would be great to have two young fellas really make a go of the opening partnership for nz. I definately commend Hesson for giving blokes a sustained run as openers as oppose to the musical chairs situation in recent years. Sure it hasn't exactly worked great so far... and Fulton really had to go, but at least we're picking specialist openers (no shifting Neesham, Anderson, or Watling to open as i've read in comments on here.I can see some merit in perhaps shifting BMac there espeically as he's a very nervous starter against spin but I would think they're pretty settled at 3,4,5 now.

Posted by FOUR-REAL-QUICKS on (June 16, 2014, 12:11 GMT)

Weather forecast seems pretty good though for the next few days, plenty of sunshine and low 30's - let's hope the rain stays away and we get to see some good cricket. The only game where Blackwood failed during the entire regional season was the match against T+T at Port-Of-Spain. Let's hope if he does play today, he adds that ground to the list of recent grounds where he has done well. Scores of 147, 140, 118 and 94 all within the last few weeks show he is clearly in form, with Leon Johnson also among the runs of late with a century against Leewards and several 50's against the touring Bangladesh 'A' team. West Indies sorely needs young batsmen to shine and make a statement. Looking forward to an improved performance from Roach after his easing back into things at Sabina Park. He and Taylor bowling in tandem at long last, should be the best opening strike pair the Windies have fielded for years, Holder would make a fine third quick if selected too, he bowls patently sharper nowadays.

Posted by   on (June 16, 2014, 11:16 GMT)

My prediction. Rain. Traditionally this is one of the wettest weeks in the year.

Posted by FOUR-REAL-QUICKS on (June 16, 2014, 10:02 GMT)

Holder must play, be good to see Blackwood too but I feel Johnson may debut instead. Gayle, Brathwaite, Edwards/Blackwood, Bravo, Chanderpaul, Johnson, Ramdin(c/w), Holder, Taylor, Benn, Roach would be my XI from this squad. Thanks to the selectors for not going back to the likes of Sarwan and Fidel Edwards, time to give some of the younger guys who show promise a chance.

Posted by   on (June 16, 2014, 9:26 GMT)

@BlakeHoulihan.... mate, it IS an I told you so situation actually... lolz... as the Rutherford naming early seems to indicate Corey is still injured and thus people contending they would accommodate Corey instead were not wrong, he was simply not right to play... and an opener is simply a batsman with good technique.. With that in mind, who's better? Corey's or Rutherford's technique? BlakeHoulihan? Huh? I didn't hear ya... 8-) And Corey often has batted first drop (historically, domestically and in youth teams) which, for mine, is opener quality. Anyway.... If he is not fit, then fine... though I might have gone Ronchi (or had Guptill there instead of Rutherford), but anyway they are all moot points. Let's just roll up our sleeves and show them we can fight the fight deeper and longer and take this series now gang!! 8-)

Posted by pt_pt on (June 16, 2014, 9:20 GMT)

NZ should think about opening with Latham and Mccullum if Anderson is fit to play, as they have enough fire power is middle order with the 2 allrounders and certainly a lot variety in the bowling attack.

Posted by   on (June 16, 2014, 9:10 GMT)

Interesting.... It seems NZ have shown their hand early (if the article's contention is true) and are playing Rutherford. I wish him all the best if he opens as this is a HUGE match and potentially a destiny-defining one (for the time being).... BUT... I am still a bit disappointed that for every five awesome calls we make one contentious one (albeit it's a small complaint in context). I believe that when you name your line-up, barring obvious form players, you pick your best as if you were playing a cricket console/pc game. By this I mean, you're always aggressive in that environment... and aggression is good. I would have asked Corey to open or B.Mac for this crucial test. The decision on whether they go with Wagner or both spinners and whether it is Craig or Ish I will leave in their capable hands. But it looks likely by pitch reports they will go with Wagner and that Craig will start again (despite a highish run-rate) after a superb MOTM. Good luck boys and NZ is behind you 8-)

Posted by SameOld on (June 16, 2014, 8:50 GMT)

In the bad old days, this is about the point when NZ collapse twice, get thumped, waste all the momentum of the last few wins, and go back to square one. Let's hope they've ripped up the old script for good, and just keep doing what they've been doing all year.

Hopefully, Rutherford can score a big'un this Test, and we can all go back to what NZ fans do best: arguing about the bowling line up! :)

With that in mind, two spinners or Wagner? Anderson? I'd go with Wagner, unless the pitch is really brown. A Test or two on the sidelines wont hurt 21y/o Sodhi much, and Queen's should suit Wagner's style nicely. Tough for selectors to bring a second change (after Fulton) to a winning side though, so my prediction is for the same side, barring the opener swap.

Barring a barnstormer from Roach and Taylor, NZ should win comfortably again. If those two can bring fresh batsmen out for the WI spinners to bowl to, it'll be much tougher for NZ.

Posted by   on (June 16, 2014, 8:16 GMT)

I think if you were to bring Anderson in for Fulton the team would be:

1. K. Williamson 2. T. Latham 3. B. McCullum 4. R. Taylor 5. C. Anderson 6. B. Watling 7. J. Neesham 8. T. Southee 9. I. Sodhi/N. Wagner 10. M. Craig 11. T. Boult

Rather than opening up with BMac

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