New Zealand's capitulation hardly surprising

CLAY WILSON
Last updated 13:30 05/07/2012

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OPINION: If you really think about it, it was hardly surprising the Black Caps began their tour of the USA and West Indies with embarrassing losses in two Twenty20 matches in Florida.

A combination of several factors saw New Zealand suffer a 61-run pummelling in the first game before again being totally outplayed to lose the second match by 56 runs.

The first thing that stands out is the lack of quantity and quality in the Black Caps preparation for this tour.

Before leaving the country, the New Zealand players had no official training camp or practice sessions. This despite the fact it had been three months since they drew the third test against South Africa in Wellington. I remember listening to captain Ross Taylor being interviewed on radio the day before his team flew out, even he admitted it was a bit strange to go into an international series without the team getting together beforehand.

To say the players did not bowl a ball or hit a ball in anger prior to that first T20 in Florida is false. But I would hardly call a "bowling camp" in Australia on their way over sufficient preparation. It's almost like they decided the two T20 games would be their warm-up for the one-day and test series, but that is hard to believe.

When you compare the Black Caps preparation to that of a West Indies side coming off long, tough series in all three forms against England and Australia it is not hard to see why the results were so one-sided. The other thing that stood out was how strong that West Indies T20 unit was in comparison to ours.

It has been a long time since I have glanced at a West Indies line-up and been genuinely impressed by what I see. But after changing the channel in disgust as we capitulated well short of our target in that first match, I realised it was not just that New Zealand had played poorly.

Despite their lowly world T20 ranking of seven, West Indies have a side capable of beating all those rated above them in the 20-over format.

Their trump card is destructive opening batsman Chris Gayle. The towering Jamaican left-hander plundered the Black Caps bowlers to all parts in Florida, scoring 85 and 53 and swatting nine sixes and 10 fours in the process.

If he is not the most powerful and entertaining batsman cricket has ever seen then he can't be far off.

Although not in Gayle's league yet, fellow big-man Kieron Pollard is in the same vein, while Dwayne Bravo, Marlon Samuels and captain Darren Sammy are also proven internationals capable of hitting the long ball.There is less for opposition teams to fear about the West Indian bowling ranks, but in spinner Sunil Narine they have someone beginning to stamp his mark at the highest level. The young tweaker already appears to have the number of the New Zealand batsmen and took 7-48 from his eight overs in the two T20s.

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Quicky Fidel Edwards and wiley medium-pacers Bravo and Sammy are the other main players in an attack capable of taking wickets and restricting runs.

With two sound defeats fresh in their minds and injuries likely ruling out key skipper Taylor and Jacob Oram for the rest of the tour, it is clear the Black Caps have plenty to do if they are to bounce back strongly in the Carribean. On top of that, Taylor's absence has handed the captaincy reins to 21-year-old Kane Williamson.

One can't help but think if they had been through a more thorough preparation and paid a bit more attention to the calibre of their opposition the task they now have ahead of them might not be so tough.

- The Marlborough Express

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