Wagner calls for ruthless Black Caps edge
The New Zealand cricket side continue to talk the talk, but has just one more chance to walk the walk on their Caribbean tour.
Blanked 2-0 in the Twenty20, thrashed 4-1 in the one-day series and, after narrowly surviving a three-day tour match, one down in a two-test series, there's only a drawn test series and plenty of pride to play for.
To make matters worse, the New Zealand side have been dealt a cruel blow of losing their most experienced campaigner for the tour finale, which begins in Jamaica overnight tonight (NZ time).
Daniel Vettori was yesterday ruled out of the test with an abductor strain, which he picked up midway through the first test.
Despite being well and truly outplayed in the Caribbean, the team has constantly stated it is close to finding its batting form, close to being competitive and close to coming up with plans to play the West Indies' two tour stars, Chris Gayle and spinner Sunil Narine.
Yet, day-in and day-out, they've struggled. So it was refreshing to hear new kid on the block Neil Wagner being honest about what needed to improve - everything.
"The batters have got to stand up and the bowlers have got to stand up," he said yesterday.
"And our fielding," Wagner added later. "We just have to play proper cricket."
Preparing for just his second test, Wagner is still dripping with enthusiasm and a "let me at 'em" attitude.
That pluck and vigour needs to be infectious if the New Zealand side - stagnant in seventh on the ICC test rankings list - are to keep up with a fast improving and confident Windies team itching to sneak past them.
Anything less than a New Zealand win would drop Ross Taylor's team to eighth on the test list, above only Bangladesh.
The New Zealand side was young and inexperienced, but needed to find some venom in this test, Wagner said.
Being aggressive with the new ball, taking any chances created and then limiting any opportunities for their hosts to dominate would all be key.
"The boys have learnt a lot, this isn't an easy place to come and play.
"[But] we need to be ruthless, just try and give them nothing," Wagner said.
HOW THEY LINE UP
What: Second test, West Indies v New Zealand
When and where: Sabina Park in Kingston, Jamaica, from 3am tomorrow NZ time, SS2
New Zealand (from): Ross Taylor (c), Trent Boult, Doug Bracewell, Dean Brownlie, Daniel Flynn, Martin Guptill, Brendon McCullum, Chris Martin, Tarun Nethula, Tim Southee, Kruger van Wyk, Neil Wagner, BJ Watling, Kane Williamson
West Indies (from): Darren Sammy (c), Denesh Ramdin, Adrian Barath, Tino Best, Shivnarine Chanderpaul, Narsingh Deonarine, Fidel Edwards, Assad Fudadin, Chris Gayle, Sunil Narin, Kieran Powell, Kemar Roach, Marlon Samuels
TAB: West Indies $1.85, New Zealand $5.25, draw $2.70
- Fairfax Media
Should the Black Caps recall Jesse Ryder?