West Indies buoyed by recent form
The West Indies will look to draw confidence from their recent outings when they take on the Black Caps in Wellington on Friday.
Skipper Jason Holder feels that despite reaching what many feel is an all-time low in terms of performance in 2016 through to 2017 the team has turned the corner.
They have won three of their last four Tests beating a tricky Zimbabwe team 2-0 with a brace of wins in Bulawayo after their triumph over England at Headingley.
It was at Headingley that things started to look up with some much needed top order runs being provided by Kraigg Brathwaite and Shai Hope.
Conditions in England are the closest to what they will face in New Zealand with pace set to dominate.
Ahead of the first Test skipper Holder said: “I think we’re in a pretty good place, this present team.
“I think we built up quite nicely this past year. We’re still not a finished product. There’s a lot more improvement to be made.
“But I think we’re headed in the right direction. I think it would be a very good series, especially coming off a win in Zimbabwe.
“I’m really pleased with the progression of this side. And we’ve obviously played some decent cricket in England prior to that. So yeah, I’m feeling really good about this series.”
Both sides have included just one frontline spinner in their squads but with the Basin Reserve often settling down into something of a batsman’s paradise on day three and four Devendra Bishoo could well have a big part to play as will his counterpart Mitchell Santner.
Holder praised the attack at his disposal saying: “We’ve got a pretty balanced attack.
“Our seamers have done well for us in the past, led by Shannon [Gabriel] and Kemar [Roach] – we’ve got some decent replacements on the bench as well, who haven’t probably played in the last few months like Miguel Cummins and Alzarri Joseph.
“I think our seam bowling department is covered.
“We obviously have our main spinner in Devendra Bishoo – he’s our only frontline spinner on this tour and other guys like Roston Chase and Kraigg Brathwaite can probably help also.
“Roston and Kraigg are top-order batters as well, who can bowl quite a few overs in a game and pretty much hold up an end and in doing so help us rotate the seamers. So, I think it brings a lot of depth to our side.”
The Wellington wicket is green there are no two ways about it but it doesn’t always play with the venom you’d expect which leaves Holder unsure about what to do should he win the toss with most skippers inclined to bowl first at the Basin Reserve though this has returned a mix bag of results.
Holder added: “I don’t think many batsmen in world cricket have grown up to see so much grass on a pitch and really be willing to have a go at it.
“Having said that, it’s international sport and we can be asked to bat tomorrow, we’d be happy to lose the toss or whatever the case maybe, so we’ve got to have an open mind towards it and whatever happens we’ve got to be professional towards it and just assess the conditions as we see it and not predetermine what’s going to happen with the surface.
“As a group we want to analyse it only when the cricket actually starts.”
Dan Lawrence leads Essex onslaught against Derbyshire
The hosts were in a hurry after a first day washout at Chelmsford.
England likely to do without IPL contingent for New Zealand Test series
The players returning from India will come out of quarantine less than a fortnight before the Lord’s opener.
Rachael Haynes withdraws from The Hundred due to coronavirus restrictions
Australia’s Haynes was one of the star overseas signings for the inaugural edition of the 100-ball competition.
Former England seamer Harry Gurney retires from cricket due to shoulder injury
The 34-year-old left-armer has been unable to recovery sufficiently from a shoulder injury.
Richard Gould leaving Surrey to become Bristol City chief executive
Gould was commercial director at Ashton Gate between 2001 and 2005.
Jofra Archer takes two wickets on return in Sussex clash with Kent
Archer has been out with finger and elbow issues.
Jofra Archer to step up injury return in Sussex’s Championship game with Kent
Archer’s last first-class appearance for the county came in the 2018 season.
Stuart Broad: England not finished article but on verge of ‘something special’
Joe Root’s side finished fourth in the WTC’s inaugural league table.
Tom Harrison warns ‘we’re not out of the woods yet’ as ECB reports £16.1m losses
Prior to the onset of the global health crisis the ECB had expected the past year to be characterised by rising revenues.
ECB reports £16.1m loss with cash reserves down to £2.2m due to impact of Covid
Cricket as a whole in England and Wales has accrued revenue losses of more than £100m.