Holder wary of NZ strength but backs Windies preparation

Thursday, November 23, 2017

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CHRISTCHURCH, New Zealand (CMC) — Captain Jason Holder says West Indies are under no illusions about the massive threat posed by the powerful Black Caps side but stressed the Caribbean side would be looking to execute their game plan clinically, in the two-Test series starting here next month.

West Indies arrived on Tuesday to begin preparation for the rubber which sees them chasing their first series win on New Zealand soil in 22 years.

And faced with a strong home side packed with the likes of Kane Williamson, Ross Taylor and Trent Boult, Holder said the Windies were very cognisant of the hosts' strength.

“Those guys bring a wealth of experience. Kane has been one of the leading batsmen in Test cricket for a while and Ross similarly,” Holder told reporters here.

“So I think they will rely heavily on Ross and Kane, and obviously Tom Latham will come to the fore – he has been doing pretty well for them and obviously their bowling attack will be led by Boult and [Tim] Southee.

“Not missing out a guy like Neil Wagner, I think he brings a lot of quality to their side, a lot of variation as well being left-handed, and different dimensions in terms of shorter-pitched bowling.

“It's going to be a good test, they've got some good players, some key players and we've got the same.”

West Indies are coming off a 1-0 win over minnows Zimbabwe in a two-Test series in Bulawayo earlier this month – their first series win in three years.

However, they acquitted themselves well against Pakistan in the Caribbean this year despite a 2-1 defeat in a three-Test series, and also managed to take a win off England in an identical series there during the summer.

Holder said the challenge before his side in the upcoming series would be to continue the development which had been taking place.

“I'm just asking the guys to remain focussed on the process, that's all I zone in on basically – everybody knowing their role and executing,” the all-rounder explained.

“I don't want to get too caught up with the conditions. Obviously [it is] a big factor but we've still got cricket to play and cricket is played on the field. I think if we back our skills and we prepare well, we put ourselves in a very good place to win this Test series.”

West Indies have become a settled squad in recent months, with an unchanged unit from the England tour heading to Zimbabwe. Selectors made just one change for the current series, axing out-of-form Kyle Hope for prolific West Indies A right-hander Sunil Ambris.

Holder, who has led the side for two years now, said resisting the urge to chop and change had paid dividends.

West Indies face New Zealand A in a three-day tour match starting Saturday in Lincoln before taking on the senior side in the opening Test at the Basin Reserve in Wellington from December 1-5, and in the second Test at Seddon Park in Hamilton from December 9-13.

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