When your home cricket summer has been reduced to barely four test matches ( that’s all New Zealand will be playing in 12 months from April 17-March 18) and is glutted with a number of limited over games, then it’s no mad guess where your preferences lie. New Zealand Cricket shouldn’t be blamed though, with rising costs (as Zimbabwe, Bangladesh and Pakistan have cut down their numbers), it is becoming increasingly difficult to organise 5-day cricket where the earning is not same like in 180-minute slam-bang carnival.
Suddenly it has come under such a focus that Ireland and Afganistan who have been waiting for years to get Test status have to think from where they will get the fund to organise Test cricket.
Given the circumstances, no one should blame the teams visiting Kiwis for such a short series. Before things start settling downs, the series is over, and for a young team like Jason Holder’s, it is even more difficult to find their feet.
New Zealand would be happier to have so much option in pace bowling Apart from Tim Southee, Trent Boult and Neil Wagner. Backup bowlers in Matt Henry and Lockie Fergusen have been impressive in their recent games. Colin de Grandhomme has nailed the allrounder slot after an impressive performance at Basin Reserve. He has silenced the critics who have been questioning his batting ability for Test matches with a big hundred.
Mitchel Santner didn’t have much to do at Basin, but at Hamilton, he might get a chance to have a more significant role as the warm weather might aid tweakers. On the other hand, with Tom Blundell scoring hundred on debut New Zealand suddenly seemed to have found another keeper to backup BJ Watling. Among the batsmen, Ross Taylor, Henry Nicholls and Jeet Raval had a good outing in the first test but what was more surprising that in-form Tom Latham and Kane Williamson missed out on big scores and the later will be looking to amend the things as Root, Smith and Kohli are churning runs.
West Indies, on the other hand, had not so much to bank on as their Captain has been suspended for slow over rate and it would be on senior players to motivate the youngsters who are playing for the first time in New Zealand. Kraig Brathwaite and Shai Hope have been the men in-form off late, and with Shimron Hetmyer making significant fifty, West Indies may be relieved but its time Keiren Powell and Roston Chase to find their feet. Both of them have not been able to make consistent contributions to the team which have increased pressure on lower order.
In the absence of Holder, the lower order will be weakened, and responsibility now lies on the shoulders of Sunil Ambris and Shane Dowrich to make substantial scores.
In bowling, Kemar Roach was the sole reason for relief, Shannon Gabriel seemed off colour and need to find his rhythm back if West Indies don’t want to lose another series in New Zealand.
Though the Seddon Park pitch has a green cover, it’s highly unlikely that it will aid the seamers as it did in Wellington. The hot weather in Hamilton has not only ensured proper preparation of the pitch, but it has forced curator to cover the surface so as not to get it too dry. The game will mark the return of Patumahoe clay – which provides more bounce and pace than Waikari clay which was used in the last test against South Africa in March this year as both New Zealand Cricket board and management wanted to nullify the protea’s pace attack.
Though the pitch might take variable bounce but Seddon Park curator Karl Jhonson stressed that there would be nothing in for spinners. The pitch might force Windies to include leg-spinner Devendra Bishoo in place of their suspended skipper.
West Indies: Kraigg Brathwaite – Kieren Powell – Shimron Hetmyer – Shai Hope – Roston Chase – Sunil Ambris – Shane Dowrich – Devendra Bishoo – Alzari Joseph/Miguel Cummins, – Shanon Gabriel, – Kemar Roach.
New Zealand: Jeet Raval – Tom Latham – Kane Williamson – Ross Taylor, Henry Nicholas – Mitchell Santner – Colin De Grandhomme – Tom Blundell – Tim Southee – Neil Wagner – Trent Boult.