West Indies' woeful quicks waste a green top

BELOW THEIR BEST: Tino Best laments a missed opportunity on day one of the second test.
BELOW THEIR BEST: Tino Best laments a missed opportunity on day one of the second test.

You'd have got long odds on Shane Shillingford and Narsingh Deonarine bowling unchanged for the best part of a session.

But such was the collective ineptitude of the West Indies fast bowlers on day one of their second test against New Zealand that the visiting spinners wheeled down 39 uninspired overs between them.

Wasn't the Basin Reserve pitch meant to be a green seamer? Hadn't Windies captain scored a decisive blow by winning the toss and asking New Zealand to bat? Apparently not.

With the ball in the correct hands, yesterday's pitch had five for 60 written all over it. Instead New Zealand went to stumps at 307 for six, and with most of the dismissed batsmen no doubt smarting from having gifted their wickets.

Opener Peter Fulton could probably mount a reasonable case for having been got out - the rest will be left to reflect on regrettable shot selection or poor execution.

To some degree that was a consequence of how loose the Windies' quicks were. Tino Best looked a couple rungs below his, as he speared the ball hither and yon.

It was almost as if the West Indians hadn't seen a wicket with bounce before and were content to whack the ball in and watch it fly.

Shannon Gabriel was the best of all their bowlers, despite being on a none-for for most of the day. He'd be a first-change bowler in a better-balanced team than this one and operated like that, probing away around offstump on a more consistent nature than Best or captain Darren Sammy.

Best's bark really is better than his bite and while bustles in vigorously, you wonder how he's trying to get people out. As a batsman it's hard to get into the rhythm of being tight and correct when even the guy bowling gives the impression of not knowing where the next ball's likely to land.

You assume there'll be less mystery about New Zealand's method when their turn to bowl arrives later today.

"We naturally bowl just that little bit fuller and we swing the ball, whereas they nip it around a bit. Sammy's their only genuine swing bowler," New Zealand century-maker Ross Taylor said, after holing out to deep backward point on 129 to give Gabriel his only success of the day.

It's true that grass can be deceiving, especially at the Basin Reserve where the ball doesn't often go sideways. But it's hard to escape the feeling that there's still plenty of untapped life waiting for a more demanding and disciplined bowling unit to extract it.

Sammy said New Zealand's bowlers had a lot of miles in their legs after the first test in Dunedin and that his boys would be fresher at the Basin. Yesterday it was his attack who looked weary and without a discernible plan.

The intrigue of today will be whether the Black Caps heed the West Indies' lesson of how not to bowl on a green top.

Fairfax Media