Kiwis losing interest in Windies

The New Zealanders are rapidly losing respect for and interest in the sorry West Indies team. Unflattering opinions of the lack of fight in their fourth successive defeat in the National Bank ODI Series at Napier on Monday - and the 19th in their last 21 such completed matches - came from Stephen Fleming, the captain, and New Zealand's main newspapers.

Their lack of appeal has been reflected in the rows of vacant seats and empty spaces at the venues. An estimated 3500 turned out for the second match in Queenstown. The Sri Lankans attracted close to 10,000 there in December. The comparisons have been similar elsewhere.

It was the West Indies' limp response to his team's formidable 324 for 6 at McClean Park that mystified Fleming. They ended 233 for 8 from the 50 overs to lose by 91 runs. "We expected them to come out at us all guns blazing and either be all out for 189 or get close to the target," Fleming said afterwards. "To meander through to 233 was a bit puzzling."

Writing in the Dominion-Post newspaper, Jonathan Millmow said West Indies "appear to have lost the will to compete". He added, "Chasing a hefty 325, West Indies did themselves and the game a disservice through their lack of conviction with the bat."

Richard Boock in the New Zealand Herald was equally blunt: "Suggestions that Shivnarine Chanderpaul's side were improving, that things were finally moving in the right direction, have been exposed as myths."

One more match remains to complete the ODI series, in Auckland on Saturday, leading into the three back-to-back Tests, with the first starting on Thursday, also in Auckland.

Brian Lara was scheduled to join the team in Auckland yesterday along with Daren Powell, the fast bowler, and Devon Smith, left-handed opener. But even Lara's presence does not convince New Zealanders that West Indies can improve.

Boock wrote that yesterday's performance "provided final confirmation that nothing special should be expected any time soon, and that little is likely to change next week when the first Test begins at Eden Park".