Black Caps have talent, but not the preparation
OPINION: Kane Williamson is now New Zealand's youngest ODI captain, which all goes to show that where the Black Caps are concerned, absolutely anything can happen.
Expect the unexpected, although in light of their two Twenty20 losses to a battled-hardened West Indies team and more frustrating injuries, nothing really surprises us any more.
Jacob Oram is predictably one of the injured parties, his massive frame again succumbing to whatever mind-numbing blight has haunted him throughout his entire career.
But a shoulder injury to skipper Ross Taylor has unexpectedly thrust 21-year-old Williamson into the firing line as the Black Caps' new limited overs captain ahead of the five-match ODI series, starting tomorrow.
Taylor might not even make the two tests, placing added pressure on one of our best batsmen to not only perform with the bat, but also make the important calls against a confident West Indies team.
The West Indies are well primed following series against both Australia and England and now have Chris Gayle locked and loaded and, on the evidence of his indomitable form in the two T20 games, poised to inflict even more hurt on the hapless Black Caps.
The Kiwis simply don't look ready for the fight, and why would they? Despite their struggles against Australia and England, particularly in the respective test series, the West Indies have still been subjected to a steady diet of top international competition.
The Black Caps haven't played any meaningful cricket since hosting South Africa in February and March, with coach John Wright bemoaning the fact that there's been no formal squad buildup upon which to base a legitimate tour foundation.
New Zealand's fast bowlers were involved in Brisbane for a camp, but the batsmen have been left to their own devices. Williamson and Martin Guptill had been playing county cricket, Kruger van Wyk playing in Scotland and Dean Brownlie in Perth.
It's a recipe for failure, with New Zealand Cricket's seemingly casual approach to the Black Caps' tour preparations having done little to instil a young and comparatively inexperienced side with any degree of confidence.
So what's a young new Black Caps' skipper to do? It's not a challenge Williamson is likely to shy away from. He's always been earmarked as an obvious international captain and judging by the maturity he's already shown in his brief but impressive career, might actually relish the chance to test himself under genuine pressure.
There's always pressure where the Black Caps are concerned, with Gayle probably the major obstacle to New Zealand's hopes of success. There's no substitute for time in the middle, but as always, New Zealand might just continue to surprise us.
They've got some talent, it's just a long way from the boil.
- The Nelson Mail