West Indies v New Zealand, 3rd Test, Barbados June 25, 2014

Wagner replaces Sodhi in series decider

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Match facts

June 26-30, 2014, Barbados
Start time 1000 (1400 GMT)

Big Picture

A six-Test winning streak and the World T20 title had signaled the possibility of a change in fortune for West Indies in 2012 and 2013. It was not to be. They lost four of the next five Tests; Darren Sammy lost the captaincy and retired from the format. The wholesale changes - a revamped bowling attack - did not produce immediate success in the first Test against New Zealand in Jamaica, but West Indies battled through five days to level the series in Trinidad. The third Test in Barbados brings with it the hope of a morale-boosting win for the hosts.

There's a lot at stake for New Zealand too. They have won only one series in the Caribbean, in 2002, and arrived for this tour with a reputation that has gained weight over the last two seasons. They added to it with a "nigh perfect" performance - in Brendon McCullum's words - at Sabina Park but faltered in Port-of-Spain, highlighting the difficulty of winning an away series. New Zealand will be raring to take the opportunity and need the captain McCullum, their only batsman without runs, to lift his game.

West Indies were heartened by the manner in which their batsmen responded after the problems in the first Test. They brought in two in-form players for the Trinidad Test - Kraigg Brathwaite and the uncapped Jermaine Blackwood - and reaped immediate rewards. Brathwaite scored his maiden Test hundred while Blackwood impressed with 63. The others chipped in too - Darren Bravo made his first Test century at home, Kirk Edwards' aggressive fifty was a statement of intent, and Chris Gayle smashed his way through to the target. With Kemar Roach and Jerome Taylor, the bowling looks in good shape.

If the Bridgetown pitch promises to be as seamer-friendly as it is said to be, the contest may be decided by which team handles pace better. New Zealand, with more technically sound batsmen, would consider that to be a head start.

Form guide

(Most recent first)

West Indies WLLLD
New Zealand LWDWW

Watch out for

Jerome Taylor's return to Test cricket has been positive. He is the leading bowler in the series with 10 wickets and has kept batsmen under constant pressure with his accuracy. Taylor has swung the ball, old and new, at pace, and on more fortunate days he would have had more wickets to show for it. He is eight short of 100 and will hope the Bridgetown curator prepares the ideal surface for him to reach the milestone.

Brendon McCullum and Ross Taylor were the stars of New Zealand's home summer prior to this West Indies tour. Taylor's three centuries, including a career-best 217, set up a 2-0 win against West Indies, while McCullum 224 and 302 helped beat India 1-0. They have had no success in the Caribbean though. Despite getting some runs, Taylor has appeared scratchy. McCullum's form has been worse - 31 runs in four innings. Considering how long the offspinner Mark Craig batted in the second innings at Port-of-Spain, similar resolve from the New Zealand captain could have helped his team save the game.

Team news

West Indies are unlikely to tinker with the XI that squared the series irrespective of the availability of offspinner Shane Shillingford, who missed the last Test due to a niggle. Shannon Gabriel, who replaced Shillingford, was the least threatening of the three West Indian seamers, but he found life on a dying pitch towards the end of the Test. With Barbados likely to have the most pace-friendly conditions, and Shillingford blunted due to the ban on his doosra, Gabriel's case is stronger.

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

The difference between West Indies and New Zealand's XIs in Port-of-Spain was the make-up of their bowling attacks. New Zealand played two spinners to West Indies' one. The visitors have changed that for Barbados, bringing in left-armer Neil Wagner as the third seamer in place of the legspinner Ish Sodhi, whose four wickets were expensive in Trinidad. Mark Craig was wicketless in the second Test but his marathon batting effort in the second innings went in his favour.

New Zealand: 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, 9 Tim Southee, 10 Mark Craig, 11 Trent Boult

Pitch and conditions

Rain is likely over the next five days, but if forecasts are to be believed the weather will not disrupt the Test too much. It is the pitch the teams will be keeping a careful eye on. "Kensington always has a little bit in it for the bowlers as well," Ottis Gibson, the West Indies coach, had said. New Zealand will not mind that either.

Stats and trivia

  • This will be West Indies' 50th Test at Kensington Oval. They have won 22, lost 10 and drawn 17
  • New Zealand registered their first Test win in the West Indies in 2002, at Kensington Oval
  • New Zealand beat West Indies six times in 30 Tests till 2000, and six times in 14 games after the turn of the century

Quotes

"It's beautiful, a great atmosphere. Good wicket to bat on at all times. Barbados is very passionate about the game. A fantastic ground, love playing here personally, you get quality for your shots."
West Indies batsman Chris Gayle

"The opposition is not going to allow you to play that sort of cricket (second Test) all the time but that's the cricket we want to play and that's what we will set out to do."
Ottis Gibson, the West Indies coach

Devashish Fuloria is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Robinivic on June 26, 2014, 13:45 GMT

    In the last game, when the West Indies were amassing a hefty lead, I found myself wishing for Wagner. He's a tireless bowler, and the kind of guy who can get wickets when everyone else has their heads down. I'm happy with his selection in this game. At the moment Rutherford isn't showing anything near the discipline that an opener needs at this level. He needs to get the basics right - like leaving the ball when it's a good length well outside off stump and the bowlers have their tails up. Latham is a keeper for sure. He'll be there opening the batting in ten years time I reckon.

  • espncricinfomobile on June 26, 2014, 13:23 GMT

    Would like to see WI replace Benn( deserves a rest ) with Holder...best time to try this

  • kiwicricketnut on June 26, 2014, 9:46 GMT

    is this team turning into a otago old boys club or what, geez couple of bad selections here with the series on the line, all for wagners inclusion but it should be for the wicketless craig not sohdi and rutherford at the exspence of anderson, unbelievable.

  • shane-oh on June 26, 2014, 9:16 GMT

    @weasel_zapper - side point re Southee/Boult. After your comment I had a look at their recent form and it wasn't terrible - Southee with 6 wickets in the first test, 1 in the second (in a very short innings). Boult with 3 and 1. I felt this was a slightly disappointing result and found myself agreeing with your comment - how good is it to feel that way after a couple of tests, which weren't even that bad for these bowlers? I don't think I've seen NZ with such a great bowling lineup ever, in 25 years of watching cricket.

    Taylor and McCullum due for runs and we've still been competing strongly. If NZ put on a near complete performance, I feel that the Windies have no chance here. Of course, they will have something to say about that and have players in form themselves. Should be a cracking decider!

  • weasel_zapper on June 26, 2014, 8:51 GMT

    2 failures from Rutherford will probably see someone else given a go. Hope he can get a score, certainly looks an elegant player when he gets going. Having Latham at the other end will perhaps help him if he can get himself in, seemed to feel the pressure a bit with Fulton at the other end to increase the scoring (could be reading a little too much into that though). Latham looks to have a great temperament and a good leave which is half the battle for an opener. Obviously this WI attack is alot better than the one we faced at home but i'm confident we have the batsmen to put a decent score on the board.

    Also a bit surprised they went with Craig, but it's certainly for the reasons Jordanious stated as opposed to his batting. Perhaps a bit of a defensive move but we really let the game slip away last match when the change bowlers came in. Wagner will remedy this too, he will be absolutely pumped for a big performance. Reckon Boult and/or Southee are due for a bag of wickets too.

  • wapuser on June 26, 2014, 8:39 GMT

    Saw your last comment Bishop and Im not picking a fight. Rutherfrd (love those Otago guys in the marginsl positions there with Hess as coach) managed to ingest in each one of us worldwide a notion that once he was off that Dunedin road he'd never see another like it. McCullum (just before being too technically abhorent for opening) did manage to fight fire like craxu eith fire against people like James Pattinson..and slso get the blame for everuone failing behind him. Uou can probably tske out any random teo teat period ftom McCullums averages without affecting them too much. Theres been a lot setting it in stone snyeay. Kiwi openers struggle hes marginally better thsn most without giving our huge technical desires the suffice we'd always like..

  • Bishop on June 26, 2014, 8:01 GMT

    @ Rob & Wapuser...fair play. My faulty memory. As far as taking away every batsman's double hundreds, in this case I think it is valid as McCullum has scored only 900 or so runs opening from about 30 innings. In this case his 225 represents about one quarter of those runs in one innings. Taking away (for example) his triple century against India earlier this year from his 4000 runs he's scored everywhere but opening leaves still a healthy average.

    Batsmen's records should stand having one good innings removed from it. As an exercise, remove Rutherford's 170-odd on debut from his record, and see what is left.

  • wapuser on June 26, 2014, 7:55 GMT

    25 is also quite good by kiwi openers standard. Check ou the averages of our finest. People pick on McCullum. He's better than he's given credit for. He fights his guts out a the top of the order for 60 or 70, gets out to a loose shot..and...noone anywhere gives him any slight credit. Kiwi openers find facing faster bowlers (overseas too..) with the new ball to be bloody hard work.

  • android_user on June 26, 2014, 7:39 GMT

    @Bishop While I totally agree that McCullum is not an opener, I am compelled to point out that his 225 was against India in India, not Bangladesh

  • wapuser on June 26, 2014, 7:27 GMT

    Bishop (whoever you may be) 34 is the Big Time in kiwi openers averages. His double century was against India not Bangladesh. If we took out every batsmens double hundreds where would they all be..