West Indies v New Zealand, 3rd Test, Barbados, 1st day

Neesham, Benn star on see-saw day

The Report by Alagappan Muthu

June 26, 2014

Comments: 33 | Text size: A | A

New Zealand 293 (Neesham 78, Craig 46*, Benn 5-93) v West Indies 32 for 0 (Gayle 18*)
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details

Sulieman Benn picked up a five-wicket haul, West Indies v New Zealand, 3rd Test, Barbados, 1st day, June 26, 2014
Sulieman Benn chipped away at New Zealand's middle order © WICB

Jimmy Neesham occupies the No.6 position for New Zealand. Judging from the evidence in Barbados, he has the potential to bat much higher. The composure he showed while the rest of the middle-order was prised out was remarkable and more importantly much needed to push New Zealand to 293. Hometown boy Sulieman Benn coaxed a dry pitch to lend him turn and bounce in exchange for his steadfast accuracy, but his 5 for 93 lost a little of its shine as the day wound down. Mark Craig proved a thorn again, contributing an unbeaten 46 to remedy a situation that had been 194 for 7.

Chris Gayle and Kraigg Brathwaite survived nine overs till time but West Indies will be wary of being a batsman short. They had opted for a five-man attack, handing a debut to Jason Holder, and would be pleased with their openers' positive display.

West Indies ended a trend of five losses in six games across 2013-14 in Port-of-Spain and their new-look side could do with a series win. Benn epitomised that desperation and accounted for a set Kane Williamson, an aggressive Brendon McCullum, BJ Watling, whose doggedness is not to be underestimated, and Tim Southee, whose penchant for six-hitting could have hurt West Indies.

Benn forced the batsman to play more often than not, a ploy that usually provides dividends when the deck offers a little grip. His high-arm action and strong pivot of the hip helped the ball grip onto the pitch. He troubled both Williamson and Ross Taylor despite their comfort against the rest of the attack during a smart 74-run partnership for the third wicket. Benn bowled unchanged from lunch until the last over before tea and also contributed in the field with a stunning grab, diving to his right at gully to cut a fluent Taylor short.

Yet for all the threat Benn posed, the other end could not keep up. Neesham was aware of that. His resolve indicated he may have also known New Zealand haven't won a series against a top-eight nation away from home in a decade.

He targeted the seamers - a wayward Jerome Taylor was whipped for 21 off 13 balls. His comfort was no less against spin. Before lunch, he had worked on camping on his back foot unless the bowler was too generous with his flight. However, as his confidence grew he eased down the track to unsettle the status quo. There was turn and bounce available as early as an hour and a half into the Test. But Neesham's intent matched his execution, as 10 fours and a six would suggest.

Neesham's crispness ensured the run-rate hovered around the four-per-over mark and orchestrated a slump in West Indies' body language. They weren't helped by a recalled Shane Shillingford looking off his best. The offspinner struggled to elicit the same kind of help as Benn and was often guilty of bowling too short or too full. West Indies had conceded 122 runs between lunch and tea, but ripped out most of the middle order. The hosts should have been buoyant, when play resumed but sloppy fielding crept into their play. They waited for the tail to roll over and Craig and Neesham exploited that dip in intensity. The duo cultivated 64 runs from 17.2 overs to force some respect to New Zealand's total.

There seems to be a jinx on the opening partnership for New Zealand. Three different combinations have been attempted in the past 15 months, discounting Brendon McCullum's forced promotion in Port-of-Spain, and only once has the 100-run mark been crossed. A revival was not on the cards as Kemar Roach hit an excellent length. Hamish Rutherford chipped to mid-on and Tom Latham was worked over intelligently - a few balls darting across him and then a full, fast one swerved into his back pad plumb in front of middle. Roach finished with 4 for 61.

Taylor and Williamson were cautious early on, but they were not indifferent towards scoring opportunities. Sixteen fours were hit in the morning session, with the above two scoring 13 of them. Jerome Taylor was the leak - he floated a half-volley that was caressed to the boundary by Latham to kick the match off and conceded eight further fours and a six. The discipline that has him at the top of the wicket-taker's chart for the series was absent as he flitted between short and wide, and full and on the pads. It was this kind of inconsistency that helped New Zealand reach so close to 300 and West Indies would want to offset that with the bat tomorrow.

Alagappan Muthu is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

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Posted by Collis79 on (June 27, 2014, 10:45 GMT)

Even though Benn took a 5for, he still conceded too many runs, a test class spinner should be aiming to take those wickets for 60 odd runs in those 26 overs. Shillingford should not be in the team period, and there should be 4 fast bowlers because the simple truth we just do not have any good spinners. As a WIndian fan, my money is still on the NZealanders!

Posted by   on (June 27, 2014, 9:44 GMT)

It isn't balanced, West Indies are ahead and I expect them to win from here

Posted by   on (June 27, 2014, 9:18 GMT)

Not a bad day for either teams although West Indies may just be on top I think there is plenty in it for the NZ seamers and some turn for Craig so If NZ can bowl the Windies out for under 300 we have an exciting test on our hands. UP THE BLACK CAPS COME ON BOYS!!!

Posted by anver777 on (June 27, 2014, 8:34 GMT)

Well bowled Benn !!!! he claims another 5 wkt haul for WI.... I believe Sunil Narine's absent is not felt here at all, both WI spinners are doing well in this series !!!!!!! Neesham continues his good form with bat, but struggles & not among the wkts for NZ !!!!

Posted by venkatesh018 on (June 27, 2014, 7:31 GMT)

The way Gayle has started out against Boult and Craig, looks ominous for New Zealand. Gayle has identified since the second innings at Trinidad that batting in T20 mode, will be best suited to tackle this talented Kiwi attack and NZ bowlers have to react quickly first thing in the morning. Otherwise 293 which is a pretty respectable effort on this surface, will be wiped out very quickly. Maybe, T20 type of bowling ie yorkers, slower bouncers will not be bad against Gayle. Kane Williamson too can come in handy against the lefties.

Posted by Rally_Windies on (June 27, 2014, 6:47 GMT)

@ Joachim Robinson ,,,,

you must be mistaken .. Shillingford has earned nothing ... Shillingford is the 4-5th best spinner in the Caribbean ... he has been UNFAIRLY given as chance !

He has done WELL ...yes...

but that is NO excuse when there are BETTER people who can do BETTER than Shillingford on the sidelines ....

Shillingford has bolwed with Benn and Doenarine ... and BOTH of them have showed Shillingford up to be mediocre !

Shillingford can only be the Best spinner IF he is the ONLY spinner ! ! !

Where Shilly can get 10 Wickets in a match for 180 runs .... Narine , Doenarine and Benn can get 10 wickets for 90 runs ....

Look at ALL head to heads .. Shilly has never been the better of 2 spinners if 2 spinners are played .... not even ONCE .......

Shilly can only look good when he is the one spinner and granted 50% of the overs in the innings .....

Posted by   on (June 27, 2014, 6:20 GMT)

Neesham is turning out to be a seripus test batsman .Wow !! I dont think this WI bowling attack is by any means low in quality as you have Rpach Taylor Shillingford and Benn who has really impressed me .He has been taking wickets this series and this is going to be a nail biter .293 is an ok score .WI batsmen will have to work hard to get a sufficient lead and more so because they have a long tail .This is a test between two evenly matched teams and will be a joy to watch next few days.

Posted by   on (June 27, 2014, 5:50 GMT)

Shillingford earned his place on the west indies 11 even after he was released from suspension. He gained a handful of wickets with about a 5 wicket halls in almost every match he played on his returned to first class cricket. I am satisfied with this 11. We must realize that our batsmen need to step up and score some big 100's. Clearly in the last test match all our specialist batsmen scored half centuries or more showcasing exquisite form that would have doubt the fact that they lost the first test match. We don't need Jermaine Blackwood in this match to save us from dominating. After all we finally have a wicketkeeper who can score some hundreds. Took us more than a decade to get that shooting star. In this match what we needed was that extra pitcher that could also stand his ground as a very handy lower order batsmen. An alrounder you could even consider a front line bowler. This creates equilibrium within the West Indies Line up. Good Luck boys.

Posted by kiwicricketnut on (June 27, 2014, 4:00 GMT)

a while back, before neesham had played a test, i called for his inclusion, not for his batting but i thought he might make a good 3rd seamer, wagner wasn't doing very well back then and i thought neesham might be worth a shot but his bowling has been largely ineffective but his batting is absolutely brilliant, i knew he could bat but i didn't think he would be this good, he looks as good as any of the other batters, infact he looks better than most of them, he never looks hurried and is very technically correct, he should be batting at the top of the order, in my eyes he's gone from potential 3rd seamer to the guy who should be opening with latham, i hope he doesn't give up on the bowling though, he's young and if he works hard with shane bond i still think he has the potential to be that 3rd seamer one day, he has pace, an inswinger, variations just needs a bit more control, neesham is the most exciting talent in the country, think its safe to say he's exceeded all expectations.

Posted by MrKingi on (June 27, 2014, 2:18 GMT)

Neesham's run-out was soo unnecessary (Like all run-outs i guess). He hit the ball, Looked in the direction the ball was heading and despite it heading straight to the fielder he still casully strode to the non strikers end thinking there was an easy single. Only when it was too late that he tried to hurry for the single. Kid couldve got himself another century. Anyway no love lost. I can see a bit of Steve Smith in Neesh in that he should probably become more of a batsmen and shift himself up the order and give Anderson the allround tag. Morning will be key for us. Get 2-3 wickets(especially Gayle) early and we could be looking at a nice lead.

Posted by Nollis on (June 27, 2014, 1:26 GMT)

Great day for the West Indies benn showing his quality always like the difference he brings yo the bowling attack

Posted by Riddymon on (June 27, 2014, 1:22 GMT)

"Holder bats as good as Sammy"...that's a bit of a reach statement. Definitely disagree but I'd say he's not useless with the bat. No big scores as of yet...but he has potential. Having said that....why they'd have 5 specialist bowlers made me scratch my head and why they left out jermaine blackwood also made me scratch my head. Essentially they've made their batting weaker for what...they were perfectly fine with a 3:1 seam/spin attack from last match. As we can see after the first innings score...it hasn't helped them too much. They'll need a significant contribution from the top order to prevent a collapse as their tail is VERY long now.

Posted by JoshFromJamRock on (June 27, 2014, 0:36 GMT)

I guess I might as well also blame the selectors for the XI they chose.

Shillingford's selection was not warranted. He clearly hasn't recovered for his doosra suspension. If he was played for a 'bowl-off" between him and Benn for the next series, obviously Benn has won it. Benn did better against right-handers (6 of them) than Shilly did against left-handers (5). They are expected to get these guys out easier. When facing left-handers at least Benn was able to contain them but when Shilly bowled to right-handers he did little to stop their scoring. It was a no contest and Benn proved his doubters wrong. HE WAS THE LEADING SPINNER IN THE WI REGIONAL 4-DAY.

They should have kept Blackwood and only replaced Gabriel. Holder hasn't bowled much but he's pretty good with the newer ball. Could be a bit smarter with the older ball, like Taylor, but remember its his first match though Blackwood's drop makes Holder appear to be a "passenger" in the team since he took no wickets (not yet).

Posted by wirus on (June 27, 2014, 0:12 GMT)

I simply cannot understand why WI go through these periods in the field in which they just collectively slump and withdraw. The body language speaks volumes and says to the opposing batsmen "We 're just going through the motions until we get lucky and pick up a wicket." Against a good side like NZ that is almost always exploited and against really good sides like SA later in the year it will be a mistake that will cost the match. Why on earth can't the captain and other senior players like Gayle, Chanderpaul and Taylor try to gee up the team. Ramdin especially should be barking at them furiously to wake up and get at the NZ batsmen. It's no good talking about it in interviews after the match. It has to be done on the field. If WI could maintain intensity for longer periods each session they would dominate more. It is these periods of slumped shoulders and careless fielding that breathe life back into the opposition. Consistent intensity is the missing link in this current WI team.

Posted by Patchmaster on (June 27, 2014, 0:09 GMT)

A lot of people being down on the windies selection here - but Ithink it's a brave one and an aggressive one. As an ENG fan, we can only dream of such dizzy aggressive selections !

Posted by wapuser on (June 26, 2014, 23:52 GMT)

@Rana Sajid Ali. Really? West Indies bowling wasn't a problem in the first test? Didn't New Zealand declare twice in that match? And in the first inning scored over 500 runs?

5 bowlers is playing it too cowardly, also Ramdin going defensive by having someone sweeping in the covers as early as the prelunch session tells me he still has a lot to learn. One hopes that West Indies don't find out quickly tomorrow how much they really should have played Jermaine Blackwood.

Posted by Twinkie on (June 26, 2014, 23:48 GMT)

Hey! A Bajan was involved in all ten wickets today and in one case two Bajans were involved. That's a strange little stat! Cool!

Posted by Starvybz on (June 26, 2014, 23:41 GMT)

kirk edwards over jermaine blackwood oh u selectors are "special". 5 bowlers was a bit overboard but they had good intentions. Jason holder bowled very well on debut. No this pitch didnt warrant four pacers to whoever suggested it because it is as flat as flat can be it aids spinners so that decision was no epic fail benn and shillingford were indifferent in their bowling. Roach instead deserved the five wicket haul he bowled extremely well. Overall it was an allright day of cricket NZ were very agressive but threw away their wickets. I hope shiv isnt badly injured because that will be a big loss. Finally ramdin tries but the captain of west indies should be more experienced that is why i feel dwayne bravo is the perfect fit and he also fills the spot for a much needed allrounder.

Posted by SixFourOut on (June 26, 2014, 22:49 GMT)

Seems to me that whenever the Kiwis find a new talent, say once or twice a year, they start with a real bang - because the seniors aren't reliable enough, then, when they cement a spot the foot comes off and the next new player is expected to score the runs. Right now it's Neesham and Latham keeping these guys afloat, but McCullum, Taylor and Williamson need more than gritty fifties.

It looks like Mark Craig needs to bat a spot above Southee at number eight.

Rutherford should be dropped in favor of: Ryder, Bracewell, Cachopa (who has a first class average of 51 and at this stage must surely just be a formality).

Anyone of those guys could perform better, likely wont perform worse and may well excel.

Put Cachopa in, give him a full year and you'll have an opener averaging 40.

The strongest NZ side I can see is:

Latham, Cachopa, Williamson, Taylor, Ryder, Anderson,Neesham, Watling, Craig, Southee, Boult,

Bye McCullum, you gave up the glove to open and now you don't so...?

Posted by Cpt.Meanster on (June 26, 2014, 22:24 GMT)

It's nice to see some tall fast bowlers for the WI at last.

Posted by   on (June 26, 2014, 22:15 GMT)

why bm not batting at top of the order????? he is not a middle order player

Posted by Twinkie on (June 26, 2014, 21:58 GMT)

Aclarity, You have a problem with Barbadian commentators? Do you now have a problem with the Barbadian bowlers returns today? How about the Barbadian batsmen's returns in the last test? Why bring in that insularity again? The Barbadian commentators that I heard today were critical of Shannon Gabriel's being omission and wished that Blackwood had been retained. By the way the New Zealand commentator was reading the names on the stands and ends around Kensington and thought what an awesome team it would make. Greenidge and Haynes, Worrell, Weekes and Walcott, Sobers, Hall and Griffith, Marshall and Garner. With ten men like those you wouldn't need an eleventh but you could take your pick of many others. I would choose Thelston Payne because we Bajans know that he should have been given a run with the West Indies team. He would have been murderous! Beat that team Aclarity, if you can! Barbados power!

Posted by chechong0114 on (June 26, 2014, 20:50 GMT)

How does a sport that is so poorly managed and generates so little public interest continue to justify its existence. Professional players representing their respective countries and the stadiums are almost absolutely empty. Whats even more appalling is that it does not seem to bother anybody in authority that has the ability to do something about it. Even the just concluded series between Sri Lanka and England had almost the same attendance level as the current West Indies and New Zealand series with only the Lord's test match having any respectable attendance. Every cricket nation on the planet seems to be content with the fact that they will make money only when the Indian's tour and no one is trying to find alternate ways to generate revenue using innovative methods. I once made the mistake of insinuating that the sport needs American blood in order for it to take some kind of real shape and form but after thinking about it soberly this sport does not deserve American influence.

Posted by   on (June 26, 2014, 16:36 GMT)

The criteria for selection of players continue to baffle. But then again, so too are for the coach and the "selectors".

Posted by   on (June 26, 2014, 16:17 GMT)

I am really surprised with the WI selectors, why u went with 5 bowlers? Bowling was not your really problems, it was batting and fielding problem, in last test match WI batted well and they will and in 1st test WI batted poorly and they lost, so it was the need to strengthen the batting, indeed i'm looking a horrible result for WI :(

Posted by Rally_Windies on (June 26, 2014, 16:09 GMT)

Picking 2 specialist spinners on a pitch that warranted 4 pacers ....

epic FAIL ......

Posted by   on (June 26, 2014, 15:26 GMT)

Very unbalanced team selected by WI . WI will struggle to out score this NZ team.

Posted by aclarity on (June 26, 2014, 15:14 GMT)

Well, Well, these WI selectors are at it again. A lot of stupid talk from primarily Bajan commentators and the selectors accept. They act like paper in the wind. The 1st test batting was the problem; in the 2nd it was bowling although I think it was fielding. Why drop Blackwook to bring in Holder. The world would get a better view today of a man being pushed by Gibson when he is not ready. Selection in the WI is about likeability not common sense. Matthew instead of Gabriel would have been the better team. Narine for Shillingford is obvious. Now there is more pressure on Ramdhin who has to bat, keep and captain - as if the pressure in Trinidad was not enough.

Posted by   on (June 26, 2014, 15:02 GMT)

Say what you will about Marlon Samuels, but his absence definitely leaves a hole in the team. When he was in the side, there wasn't much need for a second specialist spinner outside the subcontinent. But without his faster ball, he's not quite as effective as he used to be. So I guess we have to go with the youngsters.

Posted by   on (June 26, 2014, 14:55 GMT)

It's a gamble to drop Blackwood and play five bowlers instead. While it could backfire, it is a statement of intent from the WI team that they are aggressively going for a win. It could also force WI to bat more responsibly knowing that the tale is longer. My hope is that Blackwood is mature enough to see his exclusion as a move with the team in mind and not as him being served injustice after his excellent display in Trinidad.

Posted by   on (June 26, 2014, 14:51 GMT)

NJCC- I agree that dropping Blackwood was a poor idea. But Edwards did just as well in the second Test as Blackwood did. Based on his averages in all formats, it is certainly hard to consider Holder an allrounder, so I just can't see what they were thinking! I'd have been happy with Holder coming in as a straight substitute for Gabriel. West Indies batting has ALWAYS been the problem since the nineties, so I think they've really hurt themselves here, especially since we'll be batting last.

Posted by mifan558 on (June 26, 2014, 14:50 GMT)

good choice by windies.... holder can bat as good as sammy used to be in test cricket n a genuine fast bowler. all d other bowlers can bat a bit too... blackwood should be in d team though. even newzeland should hv played two spinners n corey as a extra batsman in place of rutherford. BAZ could hv open...

Posted by NJCC on (June 26, 2014, 14:19 GMT)

Very bad move by WI. They should of played Blackwood and dropped Kirk Edwards. Edwards has not shown to be any factor in WI side. WI just made their tail very long now and if Shiv falls early they will be in trouble. Porr selection by WI and selection committee needs to be reevaluated.

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