Black Caps openers struggle ahead of first test

MARK GEENTY
Last updated 12:49 03/06/2014
Kane Williamson
Reuters
AIMING UP: Black Cap Kane Williamson was the best of the NZ batsmen against a Jamaica Selection XI in the West Indies.

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New Zealand's batsmen largely struggled again on the opening day of their final shakedown for the first cricket test against West Indies.

When a downpour halted play early, New Zealand had just declared on 202-9 batting first in a three-dayer against a Jamaica Selection XI at Montego Bay.

Kane Williamson, newly arrived from county cricket with Yorkshire, topscored with 47 on a barren Trelawny Stadium pitch.

''We weren't too far away from where I would have liked on a slow pitch and with a very slow outfield. We should have probably made at least 300,'' coach Mike Hesson said.

The opening situation became no clearer as neither Tom Latham nor Hamish Rutherford seized their opportunity.

The pair were partnered up in an apparent head-to-head trial, with stand-in captain Peter Fulton shifted down to No 6.

Latham was caught at mid-off for 16 and Rutherford trapped lbw for 10.

Barring a big Rutherford score in the second innings, it's looking increasingly like the Canterbury pair of Fulton and Latham will open in the first test at Kingston starting on Monday.

Fulton's form is hardly compelling, either, as he departed without scoring.

Williamson at least hit the ground running, departing lbw three runs short of his century, while another new arrival Ross Taylor chopped on for 22.

BJ Watling (30), Jimmy Neesham (28 not out) and Ish Sodhi (21 not out) had time in the middle before the declaration came.

Hesson earlier described the conditions at Trelawny as unlike anything he'd seen around the world, even in spin-friendly India.

''There's not a blade of grass anywhere to be seen and I suppose it's a bit like plasticine. They wet it up at night, roll it and it's got a sheen on it like a skating rink. You can even see yourself in it,'' he wrote in his blog.

New Zealand are playing all 14 of their squad in this three-day match, with captain Brendon McCullum not joining the side until just before the first test.

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