WI in NZ – Series ReviewLiam Camps |
Go figure that a series that began with the farcical happenings of a Twenty20 bowl-off ended in the soggy nature of Napier. It was certainly not an orthodox tour, though the crowd did not appreciate it with the interest expected.
For the touring side it was a case of one step forward and two steps back. The West Indies came within 27 runs of a victory in the first Test and followed it up with a dismal second Test showing and another series defeat. From 148/0 chasing 291 for victory, they really should have gone on to win the series, if not prove competitive.
Instead it was New Zealand who entered the third and final Test searching to impose their first ever whitewash in that length of series. Runako Morton resisted stoutly, but it was the rain which claimed the final three days and the fate of the end result. It was not the typical away series for the West Indies nor a typical New Zealand home stand. The dominance of scoreline read 4-1 and 2-0, but the precious glimmering moments for the tourists were more frequent though the collapses were familiar and devastating enough to present a comfortable New Zealand win.
The one day internationals saw New Zealand emerge the better of the two teams, but only after seeing the West Indies fall away from strong positions in two of the first four games. It was not until the final match that things came together, as Brian Lara arrived on the island and fired up the troups with harsh words and positivity. Inspiration aside, it was hardly an eventful tour for Lara, though a meagre 80 runs in 5 innings is still newsworthy.
The visitors discovered competition with an impressively cool win in the fifth ODI and the signs indicated to a potential revival. With more words from Lara, they carried the spirit into the first Test – a game with everything. Momentum was difficult to gather for either side, and by the time the fourth innings started, it seemed anyone’s game with more than two days at hand for the West Indies to chase 291 on a good batting pitch. It came down to a contest of heart, and to the surprise of few, it was New Zealand who stormed through.
Shane Bond proved his worth to the a New Zealand bowling attack that looks pedestrian outside of swinging conditions without him. His incisive spell of reverse swing ripped through the West Indian middle order after the door was opened by Nathan Astle, the unsung bowling hero of the series. The effect of Bond was so significant that his performance swung the series decisively the way of New Zealand.
A deflated and frustrated West Indian team showed up at Wellington to face a Bond-less attack. The fast bowler was out with the virus, but it hardly mattered. In conditions that assisted swing bowling, James Franklin prospered to show his potential as a front-line bowler. Unfortunately it was his only genuine shining moment in a series that further exposed his lack of impact when the conditions do not assist.
The final Test at Napier saw the return of Lara and the grit of Morton, but it was the rain that spoke finally.
9 – Runako Morton
In Morton the West Indies have a found a quality player. Throughout the ODIs and Tests Morton never looked overawed and topped the West Indies averages because of it.
8 – Fidel Edwards
He has never been short of effort, but Edwards married that with consistency and an inspirational dose of aggression, shaking a few Kiwi helmets in the process.
7 – Chris Gayle
Gayle was slow to warm up on this tour, but when he found form he played with consistency and ease, if marred by poor shot selection. Tidy and effective offspin bowling adds to his appeal.
7 – Dwayne Bravo
The importance of Dwayne Bravo is such that he was picked as specialist batsman when a side strain prevented him from bowling. His only performance with the ball came in the Twenty20 opener. A couple of bad lbw decisions in the Test did not help his average, but the courage and purpose with which he batted was admirable.
7 – Daren Powell
Powell only got two caps (and only bowled in one) but he did well enough to emerge as one of the best West Indian bowlers.
6 – Ian Bradshaw
Steady as they come, Bradshaw was Chanderpaul’s go-to guy with the ball in the first Test, as he bowled 57.1 overs on debut as one of two fit specialist seamers. His failure to contain or penetrate in the second Test was crucial, however.
6 – Ramnaresh Sarwan
A couple of good innings in the ODI series were followed by a half-century and a hook-shot dismissal in the first Test, before Sarwan had to return home with injury.
6 – Dwayne Smith
Smith played the role of a bowler in the first Test and handled himself impressively. Indeed, with a maiden 5-wicket haul in the final ODI, it was a very good bowling tour for the aspiring young allrounder. Unfortunately, his batting continues to frustrate.
6 – Daren Ganga
Just two half centuries in 10 innings on tour, but Ganga looked a far more confident player than in previous incarnations.
5 – Brian Lara
If only for his motivational speaking, Lara ends midway. His spirited words came at a time when his team’s passion was gone. Just 7 runs from his first 4 Test innings, but a classy and determined 83 in the last Test showed some distinction.
5 – Wavell Hinds
Hinds’ ODI series was full of starts and only in his second innings did he carry on. On that occasion his 76 was an essential contribution in the West Indies reaching a competitive total, when the only other innings past 20 was Morton’s 39.
4 – Rawl Lewis
When he was called upon, he served well. Rawl Lewis may only have taken 2 wickets in 5 matches on tour, but he certainly gave a better account of himself than “the worst Test bowler of all-time.” No luck in his one Test match though, and his average climbs to 388. His second innings 40 in that match offered a lot more than most of the specialist batsmen did.
4 – Denesh Ramdin
All the promise he showed in Sri Lanka, Australia and the ODI series came to naught when Ramdin perished to a succession of baffling shots, not the least his skied sweep shot in the tense first Test run chase.
2 – Shivnarine Chanderpaul
At the head of a side suffering from a lack of leadership, suffice to say, Chanderpaul had a poor tour. That he averaged 14.80 in the Tests and 22 in the ODIs hardly did his cause much good at all. In the third Test Chanderpaul’s unusual dismissal summed up his tour – lack of confidence, indecision, poor cricket, and a dose of humour for those looking on.
2 – Jerome Taylor
He should never have been in New Zealand, but in the moments that Jerome Taylor was not injured, he showed signs of his potential.
1 – Deighton Butler
A point for showing up.
10 – Chris Cairns
He failed in his final international – the Twenty20 tour opener – yet the legacy of Chris Cairns forgives his blushes.
10 – Shane Bond
Bond was a demon with the white and red ball. Impossible to score off at times in the ODI series, Bond’s devastating spell in the first Test probably won the series for New Zealand.
9 – Nathan Astle
A superb series spanning over both forms of the game. Astle was in devastating form in the top and middle order, while reverse-swinging the ball with deadly accuracy. He dismissed Brian Lara in consecutive innings in the Tests and notched 4 fifties and a hundred in 8 innings over the course of the series.
8 – Daniel Vettori
With bat and ball, Vettori can hardly be faulted. His innings of 53 not out sealed a tense win for New Zealand in the second ODI and only epitomized his outstanding series. He took his first Test wickets in Auckland since 2000.
8 – Stephen Fleming
Never really consistent, Fleming was still fairly solid with the bat. He struggled against Bradshaw and was shaken up by Edwards, but coped for 3 half-centuries over both forms. Fleming’s catching was superb, aside from a tantalizing drop of Gayle, and his captaincy measured, cool and effective.
7 – Brendon McCullum
McCullum always threatened but rarely delivered. Still, his first Test 74 was composed and crucial and his wicketkeeping bordered on spectacular.
7 – Kyle Mills
When fit and in favour, Mills looked the clear second best bowler in the New Zealand outfit. Bowling with accuracy and intelligence, he was rewarded with 6 Test wickets (13.66) and 4 ODI wickets (20.50).
7 – Scott Styris
An innings of 90 in the final ODI was not enough to win a whitewash for New Zealand, but Styris scored runs at crucial stages. His century in the first Test was the basis of an outstanding recovery and proved the difference between the two teams on first innings. He had his troubles with Edwards in the series, but it was a familiar situation for most of the Kiwis. With the ball Styris did not strike regularly but did so importantly.
6 – Peter Fulton
Better than his haul of one half-century in 8 innings suggests. Fulton played with composure and confidence.
6 – Lou Vincent
The forgotten man. Vincent was dropped inexplicably from the Test team in favour of Hamish Marshall, despite scoring a classy hundred before in New Zealand’s fourth ODI cruise.
6 – James Franklin
When there was swing about it was game time for Franklin. His 5-53 in the first innings of the second Test proved that. His other performances highlighted his mediocrity otherwise.
6 – Jamie How
Like Fulton, How looked better than his statistics reflect. He was unfortunate to be run out backing up in the first Test, but always looked solid at the crease, until he got out.
6 – Jeetan Patel
Now that the SuperSub has been abolished from ODI cricket, Jeetan Patel will not get many frequent chances at international level, but he did well in those he received. The ball that dismissed Chanderpaul in the first match is unforgettable.
6 – Michael Mason
Mason did enough in limited opportunity.
6 – Ross Taylor
The most exciting talent since Craig McMillan. Taylor only played 2 ODI innings in this series and showed enough potential and aggressive intent to suggest that he will hang around for a long time yet.
5 – Chris Martin
Though he bowled impressively and with great heart at times, Chris Martin was not always as threatening as Fleming would have liked. Still, he certainly did not embarrass himself, unless batsmanship is the question.
2 – Hamish Marshall
Not much of an impact in a series where he was selected and used out of position, despite blatantly woeful form.