Too little, too late for injury-hit West Indies

MARK GEENTY
Last updated 05:00 06/01/2014

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The Caribbean cavalry is on its way to New Zealand, but it's too little, too late.

West Indies cricket coach Ottis Gibson offered one of the great understatements when he said "it's been a difficult tour", after frontline seamer Ravi Rampaul joined the casualty ward with a fractured left thumb. He was ruled out of the West Indies' 58-run defeat in the fourth ODI in Nelson after being struck on the hand in the nets on Friday.

That adds up to seven first-choice West Indies players now sidelined, as shoulders slump and New Zealand dominate at 2-1 up with Wednesday's ODI in Hamilton, then T20 internationals in Auckland and Wellington remaining.

Rampaul, Chris Gayle (hamstring), Marlon Samuels (wrist), Darren Sammy (hamstring), Kieron Pollard (knee), Kemar Roach (shoulder) and Darren Bravo (personal reasons) have all missed the tour or been invalided out.

"There's seven guys here that are getting an opportunity they might not normally be getting, and you'd have to say they're not taking the opportunity. It's been tough but they have to keep learning," Gibson said.

Rampaul's injury left the Windies with just 12 fit players, and the prospect that Gibson, manager Richie Richardson or batting coach Stuart Williams might have to kit up.

Reinforcements arrive today, though, with legspinner Samuel Badree, all-rounder Andre Russell and batsman Andre Fletcher joining for the T20 matches.

Gibson said Rampaul could potentially play in Hamilton with painkillers, given the injury isn't on his bowling hand.

"Once we can get him pain free, I'm pretty sure he will get on the park because he's that sort of character."

Since the Sammy-inspired Auckland win on Boxing Day, the tourists have gone downhill with injuries. They struggled with the chill in Queenstown and Nelson, and fielded badly on Saturday.

Tall paceman Jason Holder, who was mentored by Curtly Ambrose, has impressed. Lendl Simmons looks a classy batsman and captain Dwayne Bravo stood up with bat and ball, but the depth just isn't there.

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