The West Indies had every right to feel buoyant about their cricket tour of New Zealand yesterday, until they stepped on the plane to Wellington.
The tourists, and their New Zealand opponents, shared the flight from hell into a howling northerly wind.
As the packed Air New Zealand plane from Dunedin made a wobbly approach to the runway, the pilot abandoned his first landing attempt, then circled and tried again before touching down safely to loud applause.
There were some edgy New Zealand players, too, with one offering the pilot some advice from the middle rows and adding some much-needed levity. "Don't force it, just let it happen," he said.
West Indies offspinner Shane Shillingford caused New Zealand's batsmen some nightmares on Saturday but he looked like he'd had some of his own. Asked at the baggage carousel what he thought of the flight, he closed his eyes and shook his head.
Despite the turbulent welcome to the capital, the tourists are in far better shape than a week ago when the bulk of the squad had only just arrived from India where they were hammered in the two-test series.
Captain Darren Sammy said after an awful first two days, when they trailed by 396 runs, the draw felt like a win.
"I bet on the third day no one expected to be sitting here at 6.30pm [on Saturday]," he said.
Sammy hailed Darren Bravo's epic innings of 218, one he said Bravo's cousin Brian Lara would be proud of.
The captain was also grateful to opposing skipper Brendon McCullum for enforcing the follow on.
"At the time I said 'thank you very much Brendon'. Their bowlers toiled [for 224 overs] and that's a lot of yards in the legs.
"I guess my bowlers will be much fresher than their bowlers so hopefully we can go into the second test and they'll be a bit tired and we will be a fresher team."
Whether allrounder Sammy, who scored 80 in the second innings, can continue as third seamer is the big question. He suffered a gluteal strain on day two and limped through the rest of the test, leaving a threadbare pace attack. A team spokesman said no one had been summoned as cover, although opener Kraigg Brathwaite is expected to finally arrive today after having visa issues.
"Over next two days I'll give it a go. With the combination of our squad it's important that I'm able to bowl so I'll give it my best shot, and give myself the best possible chance," Sammy said.
- The Dominion Post
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