OPINION: West Indies great Clive Lloyd was quoted as saying the current crop was drunk on Twenty20 cricket before they strapped on the pads in New Zealand.
As batsman after batsman trudged back to the Seddon Park pavilion in a madcap two hours on Saturday, it was hard to disagree.
Previous West Indies batting lineups with more talent have folded in New Zealand conditions, but never like this. In the face of high quality swing bowling from Trent Boult and Tim Southee, basic technique failed and it was more of the same from Wellington where they lost 16 wickets in a day.
It's not drawing too long a bow to say this is the poorest West Indies test team to tour our shores, given what we've witnessed these past three weeks.
Previous editions boasted a handful of world-class players; this time Shivnarine Chanderpaul was head and shoulders clear as the only one. And he's flying home for Christmas and will miss the five one-day internationals starting in Auckland on Thursday.
Marlon Samuels averages 35 in test cricket, and with Chanderpaul should have been the glue in the middle order. Instead, he batted like a man in a hurry to don the coloured clothing, and his second innings flay in Wellington will live long in the memory as perhaps the worst shot seen by a specialist batsman in a test. And if things couldn't get worse, Dunedin double-centurion Darren Bravo was ruled out of Hamilton with a bruised arm, courtesy of a delivery from his skipper Darren Sammy in the nets.
Coach Ottis Gibson, formerly England's bowling coach, was angry after Wellington and demanded his team "man up", but it wasn't heeded.
Sammy is a good man who led strongly on one leg in Dunedin. He caught brilliantly in Hamilton. But he's not a genuine third seamer at test level, a problem exacerbated by the lack of a quality new ball duo without the injured Kemar Roach.
The pace attack is led by Tino Best who averages nearly 40 in test cricket while they should have bitten the bullet and played both spinners Shane Shillingford and Sunil Narine in Dunedin and Wellington, despite the conditions, before the former was rubbed out for an illegal action.
Fellow allrounder Dwayne Bravo takes over the captaincy for the ODIs and it's fair to expect a better showing, although New Zealand are short-priced favourites on home soil with Jesse Ryder and Martin Guptill boosting the ranks.
Batsmen Johnson Charles and Lendl Simmons add batting depth while Ravi Rampaul is an experienced ODI seamer the tourists badly need.
But Chris Gayle (hamstring) is out for the ODIs, along with big-hitting allrounder Kieron Pollard (knee), leaving them still bereft of world-class talent.
Sammy, meanwhile, will play without the burden of captaincy. He's got a few days to ponder his situation, and admits some thinking will be done at West Indies headquarters, too. He hopes judgement will be reserved until they face New Zealand again in Caribbean conditions in May-June, where they struggled in 2012.
"There are tough decisions to be made by the coach and director of cricket, some careers on line, could be mine as well, you never know. We cannot continue like this, in any organisation you need to show graft and commitment. The coach keeps saying if we do the same thing, don't expect a different result," he said.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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