As the West Indies take on New Zealand...

As the West Indies take on New Zealand...

Saturday, October 31, 2020

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Understandably, assistant coach of the West Indies cricket team, Mr Roddy Estwick, is weary of losing.

He wants the Test match squad to step up and beat New Zealand in the upcoming series Down Under.

“ ... If we want to move up [Test match rankings], we've got to win series. It's important that we put two or three performances together, not one good performance ...” said Mr Estwick prior to departing the Caribbean for a trip that will involve two Test matches and three Twenty20 (T20) Internationals.

However, Mr Estwick also made the point that New Zealand is a very powerful side, especially difficult to beat at home.

He could also have added that the last time the West Indies faced New Zealand in that country three years ago, the visitors were badly beaten in both Tests.

Further, it's not by accident that New Zealand are ranked second in Test cricket while West Indies are at number eight, only ahead of Bangladesh and Zimbabwe.

Just before the novel coronavirus pandemic shut down international sport, New Zealand, playing at home, swept powerful India 2-0 in Tests.

Also, by late November when the first Test begins, Mr Jason Holder and his West Indies team will be facing hosts with several weeks of longer-format cricket behind them, since New Zealand's first-class tournament, the Plunket Shield, started earlier this month.

By contrast, West Indies players have had no first-class cricket since the tour of England, under biosecure conditions, in July.

In such circumstances, West Indies will have a monumental task against the highly talented, battle-hardened New Zealanders in the Test series, especially.

From this newspaper's perspective, the Caribbean side will have done extremely well if a drawn Test series is achieved in New Zealand.

On paper at least, it should be easier for the T20 squad to win in New Zealand. The West Indies, after all, won the T20 World Cup title in 2016; and boast a few of the globe's more celebrated short-format players.

But even then, because of recent poor performances, West Indies are ranked ninth in international T20 cricket compared to New Zealand's sixth.

For both sides, the T20 tournament is essential preparation for the World Cup in Australia next year. Readers may remember the tournament was postponed from late 2020 because of COVID-19.

For sure, a few members of the West Indies T20 squad, including Captain Mr Kieron Pollard, should be fit and in tune since they are now involved in the Indian Premier League.

One thing the West Indians will be grateful for, regardless of what happens in New Zealand, is the 'softer' COVID-19 restrictions there.

Unlike most of the world, New Zealand has kept a lid on the spread of the novel coronavirus. As a result, we are told, cricketers will be able to socialise and interact with locals once they have completed an initial quarantine period.

That's a far different scenario from the tour of England when the entire tour took place in a biosecure environment.

As we understand it, spectators will also be allowed in to watch the games in New Zealand.

We will be watching from a distance with great interest.

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