It will be a huge Test for new captain Denesh Ramdin © Getty Images
By R Vishal
Jun 8, 2014
New Zealand and West Indies have contributed to some of the most iconic battles in cricketing folklore. The first Test starting at Jamaica will witness two teams desperate to crawl their way up the cricketing ladder. Chris Gayle, though is sure to hog the limelight for reaching 100 Tests, with his home ground playing hosts.
In what is a pretty lengthy tour, West Indies will have a lot to play for under their new captain Denesh Ramdin. Ramdin’s appointment was made after Darren Sammy decided to concentrate on the shorter formats. In what is sure to be a fresh start in attitude and mindset, a lot of preparation has gone into the series. Legends like Clive Lloyd and Viv Richards were also part of the High Performance camp a couple of weeks ago. Apart from Ramdin’s appointment, spinner Shane Shillingford also makes a comeback after being banished briefly for an alleged suspect action. Days before the start of the Test, Marlon Samuels called for his fellow batsmen to be patient and bide their time at the crease. This plea probably stems from the T20 hangover that West Indian batsmen grapple in the longer format of the game.
The Caribbean cricketers are without a doubt box office material in the T20’s. With many claims about the diminishing interests amongst certain cricketers about Test match cricket, West Indies need to make a strong statement through this series.
In his hometown and playing his 100th Test, Gayle will be the cynosure of all eyes. The big-hitting southpaw’s Test record, despite his reputation, has been prolific. With two double centuries and runs all over the globe, he will be expected to play a huge part. It remains to be seen how well he has recovered from the injury he recently suffered.
New Zealand, on the other hand are on the ascendency as a team. Their resurgence started with the home series against the Windies, where Ross Taylor’s heroics help them trample their opponents 2-0. Since then, the team performed with great verve and authority against India. In Brendon McCullum, Taylor, and the fast rising Kane Williamson, the batting order has a solid base to stand on. It is their young pace bowling battery which is their biggest strength. Tim Southee and Trent Boult can both generate good pace and swing and it will be interesting to see how they use the pace-friendly Jamaican conditions.
As the match progresses, spin will play a major part and it’s an area where the hosts have the initiative. Shillingford and several other part time options coupled with New Zealand batsmen’s traditional struggles against spin will give West Indies the advantage in the second innings. New Zealand’s balance and West Indies’s wretched Test record of late puts Kiwis as favouries.
Catch all the latest from New Zealand’s 2014 tour of West Indies here
New Zealand: Brendon McCullum (c), Corey Anderson, Trent Boult, Mark Craig, Peter Fulton, Tom Latham, James Neesham, Luke Ronchi (w), Hamish Rutherford, Ish Sodhi, Tim Southee, Ross Taylor, Neil Wagner, BJ Watling, Kane Williamson.
West Indies: Denesh Ramdin (c/w), Sulieman Benn, Kraigg Brathwaite, Darren Bravo, Shiv Chanderpaul, Kirk Edwards, Shannon Gabriel, Chris Gayle, Kieran Powell, Kemar Roach, Marlon Samuels, Shane Shillingford, Jerome Taylor
Time: 15:00 GMT | 20:30 IST
(R Vishal is a journalist and alumni of Asian College of Journalism. He can be followed on Twitter@vishhell)