Oram: Look out Windies, here come Black Caps
One win doesn't suddenly turn the Black Caps' tour of the West Indies into a success.
But Thursday's 88-run win over the Windies at St Kitts did make New Zealand all-rounder Jacob Oram wonder how many victories the team might have achieved in the previous Twenty20 and one-day internationals had they had a decent buildup.
Pasted, primarily by Windies opener Chris Gayle, in the preceding four matches, the Black Caps suddenly looked a different side in Thursday's one-dayer at Warner Park.
Getting Gayle early certainly helped, as did the fact the team have finally accrued sufficient match practice to enable them to actually compete.
It's just a shame the bean counters at New Zealand Cricket decided the team could afford to concede the opening matches of the series along the way.
"Ahh, do I answer that PC or not," Oram wondered yesterday.
"Ahh, yeah ... I know there's been a bit written and said and talked about back home about a lack of preparation. Look, we came out of a three-month – well, for me after being injured in the Zimbabwe series a fourth-month – break and it's a massive ask to come to this part of the world and these conditions where there's nothing for the bowlers, especially, and it's hot.
"When you take into account that the West Indies had been match-hardened by four months against Australia and England, it was going to be a tough ask. I sort of said yesterday [Thursday] after the game that 10 or 12 days or whatever into this tour, we're finally starting to find a rhythm with our bowling and the batsmen are starting to hit the middle of the bat on a consistent basis.
"It would've been nice to have an extra week or 10 days somewhere, so that teething period and that period of finding our feet had actually occurred during a camp and some warmup games, as opposed to our first hitout being a Twenty20 international in Miami.
"However that wasn't the case and it's not an excuse for playing poorly.
"We should've been ready."
At least they are now.
Thursday's convincing win had done wonders for the team's morale, Oram said, and they're about to be bolstered by the return of Brendon McCullum for tomorrow morning's fourth one-day international.
Originally rested for the limited overs leg of the tour, McCullum arrived in St Kitts on Wednesday and will probably bat at three and keep wicket.
He takes over from BJ Watling, whose participation in the rest of the tour is now in doubt. He strained a quadricep on Thursday and might miss the two-test series, as well as Wednesday's final one-day game.
Daniel Flynn, who has been batting at three, is likely to take up Watling's vacant spot at No5, while quick bowlers Doug Bracewell and Andrew Ellis are back in the selection reckoning after overcoming back and leg problems, respectively.
Oram likes New Zealand's chances of winning these next two games, provided they can again dismiss Gayle before he inflicts too much damage.
Meanwhile, Tim Southee, who bowled an excellent spell to Gayle on Thursday before nicking him out, has been added to New Zealand's test squad in place of the injured Mark Gillespie.
"I'm seeing a lot of good things from Tim, not only with his physical attributes but in his head as well, which for us is always a good sign," Oram said of Southee.
What: Fourth one-day international between the West Indies and New Zealand Where and when: Warner Park, St Kitts, Sky Sport 2 from 1.30am tomorrow
West Indies (from): Darren Sammy (c), Dwayne Smith, Chris Gayle, Johnson Charles, Lendl Simmons, Kieron Pollard, Dwayne Bravo, Marlon Samuels, Denesh Ramdin, Andre Russell, Tino Best, Sunil Narine, Ravi Rampaul
New Zealand (from): Kane Williamson (c), Martin Guptill, Rob Nicol, Daniel Flynn, Dean Brownlie, Tom Latham, Jacob Oram, Nathan McCullum, Doug Bracewell, Kyle Mills, Tim Southee, Tarun Nethula, Trent Boult, Brendon McCullum, Andrew Ellis TAB odds: West Indies $1.35, New Zealand $3