After a decent 2002-03 season, including an indifferent tour to India with only a draw in the third test match as a highlight and a World Cup campaign which went with only one loss until the semi-finals, the WICB were intent on revenging themselves when New Zealand came to visit.
First test at Kingston:
West Indies XI: RR Sarwan, R Samuels, S Chanderpaul, *BC Lara, CH Gayle, J Adams, +R Jacobs, N McGarrell, M Dillon, C Stuart, R King.
The crowd at Sabina Park were let down by a dismal first-innings performance, where only Brian Lara's 57 was anything to celebrate. The other batsmen got scores below thirty, and only five managed double-digit figures. The bowling wasn't too penetrative, either, and especially Merv Dillon and Neil McGarrell had off-days. In contrast to the West Indians, most of the Kiwi batsmen played well, and that took them to a first-innings lead of 166. Despite Sarwan's knock of 111 in the second innings, the other batsmen failed again, and the WIndies could only post a target of 123 - easily made by Bell, Vincent, Sinclair and McMillan. Only worry for the Kiwis was that Sinclair got hit by a nasty ball and was out with a fracture.
WI 175 & 288 lost to NZ 341 & 123/1.
Second test at St John's:
West Indies XI: RR Sarwan, R Samuels, S Chanderpaul, *BC Lara, CH Gayle, J Adams, +R Jacobs, M Nagamootoo, D Ramnarine, C Stuart, R King.
12th Man: F Rose.
New Zealand XI: M Bell, L Vincent, C McMillan, M Richardson, S Fleming, N Astle, C Cairns, A Tait, D Tuffey, S O'Connor, C Drum
The West Indians had decided to drop both Mervyn Dillon and Neil McGarrell after both had a decidedly indifferent performance in Jamaica, and brought in Dinanath Ramnarine and Mahendra Nagamootoo as replacements. Especially Ramnarine had impressed during the World Cup in South Africa and also during the Indian tour last year, while Nagamootoo took the chances he was given while in South Africa. He had also taken a three-for in a tour match against New Zealand, and was looking for more. The opener Sherwyn Campbell, with an ODI average in the 70s last season, was still out with a knee injury, as was Corey Collymore. and sorely missed in this series.
Lara lost the toss and the New Zealanders chose to field on a cloudy first day in Antigua. The pitch had something in it for seamers, but nothing at all for the spinners. Therefore, the New Zealanders with no seamers would like to get something in early.
However, a gritty but unspectacular opening partnership between Sarwan and Rob Samuels didn't exactly inspire confidence into the Kiwis. They made 87 together, Samuels clearly taking the job as attacking batsman, before managing to get bowled by O'Connor. Chanderpaul and Lara supplied Sarwan with decent support, making scores in the thirties and forties, while Sarwan himself went on to make 87 off 238 balls before going off on 217/3. That triggered a mini-collapse, as Brian Lara and Jimmy Adams went inside 5 overs for 11 runs. However, Chris Gayle made an effort to stabilised the innings together with Jacobs and Nagamootoo, making a slow and not exactly confidence-inspiring 38 off 131 balls. The West Indies nevertheless made a decent first innings score of 320, O'Connor being the pick of the bowlers by making a five-wicket-haul for 65. The only minor points to be taken against the West Indians were the slips in concentration that caused a number of batsmen to get out on 30s and 40s.
WI 1st innings: Sarwan b Cairns 87, Samuels b O'Connor 55, Chanderpaul c Astle b O'Connor 31, Lara b Tuffey 41, Gayle lbw b O'Connor 38, Adams lbw b Drum 2, Jacobs lbw b Tuffey 23, Nagamootoo lbw b O'Connor 10, Ramnarine b O'Connor 3, Stuart lbw b Tait 8, King not out 5. Total 320.
The Kiwis started their reply with Matt Bell firing 15 off 21 before being bowled by Reon King. Howver, Lou Vincent and Craig McMillan built up a solid partnership of 81 before McMillan got a bottom edge back to Stuart - caught and bowled. Stuart and King continued to bowl well, taking the first six wickets and pressuring the batsmen a great deal, and the Kiwis were in disarray at 187/6. Vincent and Tait tried to rebuild the innings with a decent 37 partnership for the 7th, but Nagamootoo and Ramnarine did wonders with the old ball, and the notion of not taking the new one was genius. Tait, Vincent, O'Connor and Drum fell for three runs off 34 balls, with Nagamootoo cutting the tail nicely and earning three wickets on the now quite rapidly wearing pitch. The West Indians had earned an unlikely first innings lead of 93 before lunch, and were looking to defend themselves to a high target.
WI bowling - total of 220: King 22-1-68-3, Stuart 24-3-67-3, Nagamootoo 16.5-6-37-3, Ramnarine 20-2-45-1.
However, Ramnaresh Sarwan went for 2 just after lunch, caught by Richardson at mid off off the bowling of O'Connor, who seriously troubled the batsmen today. Samuels got out caught behind after a very loud and clear nick, and the WIndies were 155 ahead at tea. Chanderpaul, again, failed to comply under pressure, and got clean bowled for 38, and Gayle got caught at midwicket for 2. Lara got hit in the ribs by a nasty one in the 42nd over, and in the next over, Adams was dropped on four. Then, Brian Lara was adjuged lbw to what looked like a high ball, and the West Indies were 86 for 5. However, Jacobs and Adams steadied the innings, and at stumps they had put on 37 for that fifth wicket.
In the early morning, Adams and Jacobs continued to put on some vital runs, and even though Fleming dropped another slips catch, the WIndies continued on their way to a decent target. The partnership wasn't broken before Ridley Jacobs miscued a ball from Adam Tait, and went for 31. The umpire remained bribed and didn't see that Nagamootoo was lbw just before lunch, and the WIndies went at 172 for 6. The afternoon session, however, saw some interesting developments. A number of lbws were turned down, and Nagamootoo and Adams put on a further 94 for that wicket before tea. Another run was taken before Nagamootoo was out lbw to a very stragne shot, two runs short of his fifty, but Adams continued to make a century off 263 balls. Ramnarine waited for 22 balls before not edging a run, having already been dropped once by Fleming. However, he did somehow manage to score 36 not out as well.
The West Indies declared on the morning of the 5th day (bit of a mistake there) with a massive lead of 434. Jimmy Adams ended up as top scorer with his slow 125 not out, but both he and Ramnarine were very lucky to get off the hook at the end.
WI 2nd innings: Sarwan c Richardson b O'Connor 2, Samuels c Vincent b Tait 13, Chanderpaul b Tuffey 38, Lara lbw b Cairns 20, Gayle c Bell b O'Connor 2, Adams not out 125, Jacobs b Tait 31, Nagamootoo lbw O'Connor 48, Ramnarine not out 36. Total 341 for 7 declared.
The morning started well for the West Indies, with Matthew Bell going in the third over with an edge that was easily caught by the captain at first slip for a duck. However, the next overs proved harder, and even though King had Vincent dropped off a quite hard opportunity, the Kiwis were staging a fightback. Vincent had another wild slash outside off in King's last over, the seventh, but the appeal was denied. Another close appeal against McMillan was denied just before lunch, but the WIndies could simply not get that final breakthrough. 98 for 1 at lunch.
In King's first over after lunch, Vincent got rapped on the pads, but it was a bit high for the umpire to accept. Finally, Craig McMillan got too aggressive and Jacobs managed to hold the catch, meaning that McMillan was out for 88. Still, the WIndies needed eight more wickets in little more than three hours. Mark Richardson did well coming in at four, scoring 29 before being caught at Adams at midwicket just before tea - but Stephen Fleming, who came in, opened with a sweep shot to square leg for six. At tea, the Kiwis were 214 for 3.
The evening session was a sorry one for the WIndies, with the Kiwis blocking their way to an easy draw. The series could now only be drawn, and the West Indian bowling didn't exactly look promising.
WI bowling: King 23-7-51-1, Stuart 21-2-77-0, Nagamootoo 23-7-60-0, Ramnarine 28-9-100-2.