The Black Caps pace bowlers who almost led the team to a series win over England at home last summer, now want to make a match-winning statement.
Led by Tim Southee and ably assisted by Trent Boult and Neil Wagner, the talented pace trio are champing at the bit to make a statement during the home summer which begins today against the West Indies, in Dunedin.
Last summer the New Zealanders arguably out-bowled their more fancied English counterparts. Buoyed by that and the competition for places which in this test sees the fourth member Doug Bracewell miss out, the bowling group is keen to make a mark.
"We really want to grow another arm or leg since last summer," Southee said.
Seldom in recent years have New Zealand put out a more experienced and dangerous attack than their opposition, but they will in this series.
The West Indies, once proud owners of a seemingly endless production line of big, tall quicks, have just one genuinely fast bowler on tour, Tino Best. Best is aggressive and talented, but his back-ups are largely untested.
Captain Darren Sammy will bowl first change and, in the absence of Kemar Roach and Ravi Rampaul, Best will share the new ball with either 24-year-old left-armer Sheldon Cottrell who has played just one test, or 25-year-old right-armer Shannon Gabriel who has played just four.
The Kiwi quicks are far more settled, are used to the home conditions and are in form.
Wagner took nine wickets in his last first-class match while Southee and Boult helped Northern Districts to a big win over Central Districts taking six wickets apiece.
Southee has completely recovered from surgery on his landing ankle, has confidence in his body again and confidence in the side's bowling group.
"I think our belief is growing with each match," he said.
"We're all still pretty young and we're learning, but we're trying to lead the way as bowlers and try to set the standards. It's exciting.
"Look at last summer and arguably one of the better bowling line-ups, the Poms, and probably throughout the series we out-bowled them ... it shows what we are capable of."
He said this summer was about backing that up and helping the New Zealanders to start winning test matches.
And while the home side's bowlers are confident, the visitors are relying on Best.
The 32-year-old has just 49 test wickets, but is being charged with leading the West Indies attack, especially if the New Zealand wickets are seamer-friendly and negate some of the West Indies' spin wizardry of Shane Shillingford and Sunil Narine.
"It's a good chance for Tino to show his leadership," coach Ottis Gibson said.
"He's been around international [cricket] since 2002 and with Kemar and Ravi missing, he can show his true self. He's a quality bowler and will have to step up on this trip so the young bowlers can feed off him."
- © Fairfax NZ News
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