Bidwell: Time for Black Caps to fire up match

HAMISH BIDWELL
Last updated 05:00 12/12/2013
Kane Williamson
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LOOSE SHOT: Kane Williamson walks off after being dismissed for 45.

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OPINION: No-one wants to see players colliding mid-pitch or openly abusing each other. Or at least not as often as it's occurring in the Ashes series.

But New Zealand could go a long way toward winning their test series against the West Indies by showing a bit of intent today.

The West Indies were astonishingly flat on day one of the second test, at the Basin Reserve, yesterday, where New Zealand went to stumps at 307 for six having been asked to bat on a pitch that had the potential to be very tricky.

It's fine to be cool and languid and all of that. But not having your hands in your pockets continually or making an effort in the field, even a word or two to your bowler to show him you're still awake, can make a difference.

Eleven against two is pretty good odds, as Australia have shown in the first two Ashes. The Black Caps don't need to be hostile once their turn to bowl comes today, but they should let the West Indies know that they're entering an uncomfortable environment.

Be vocal, hustle between overs, keep your throws up and accurate, string together some maidens. They're small tasks that could collectively make a big difference.

The West Indies squandered a golden opportunity to win yesterday.

Their catching and bowling was often ragged and there seemed minimal thought about most things they did.

Similar could be said of some of the New Zealand batsmen, on a day where ideal swing and seam bowling conditions weren't particularly well used.

With the exception of Ross Taylor, who's 10th test hundred was one of real technical quality and strong mental application, it was cricket from the second echelon of the world game.

Peter Fulton's faults around off stump were quickly exposed by Darren Sammy, before Hamish Rutherford's eagerness to keep the scoreboard moving did him in.

Kane Williamson came in at 14 for one, and was joined by Taylor when Rutherford went 10 runs later, and played with his usual efficiency.

Williamson will, hopefully, go down as one of New Zealand cricket's few true greats but, on 45, his fondness for camping on the back foot and hitting square of the wicket with a straight bat saw him nick Tino Best to Darren Sammy at second slip.

His third-wicket stand of 88 with Taylor was at close as things got to true test match batting. Neither player was particularly expansive and simply played everything on its merits.

Brendon McCullum (37) and Corey Anderson (38) both seemed in a hurry, getting out to spinners Narsingh Deonarine and Shane Shillingford, respectively, in ways that they'll no doubt rue.

Taylor was tremendous throughout, eventually falling prey to fatigue more than the bowling. He said he hit the wall at 110 and it looked it, as he flexed and stretched and called for a drink and basically did whatever he could to reinvigorate himself.

He now has 362 runs for the series, for only once out, and can feel immensely proud of his contribution so far.

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Assuming New Zealand's tail can wag through till at least lunch, this afternoon will be about what the bowlers can find in the pitch that the West Indies didn't.

The Black Caps feel they played the prefect test in the series opener at Dunedin and had no regrets but, should they roll the West Indies, it will be interesting to see if McCullum would enforce the follow-on again.

- © Fairfax NZ News

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