West Indies and New Zealand are expected to go all out to lift themselves from their lowly ranked status when they square-off in a test series starting in June. The New Zealand selectors have opted for two spinners, two all-rounders and only three pace bowlers expecting spin-friendly conditions in the Caribbean.
The Caribbean team have a score to settle with the visitors who defeated them convincingly 2-0 in their test series last December. New Zealand have just named two new caps in wicketkeeper Luke Ronchi and off-spinner Mark Craig in a 15-man squad for the tour to the West Indies.
The New Zealand series will begin with the Jamaica Test (June 8-12), followed by the second match in Trinidad (from June 16) and Guyana (from June 26). The first test at Jamaica’s Sabina Park will be of major significance for swashbuckling opening batsman Chris Gayle set to play his 100th Test.
Gayle, who made his Test debut in 2000, has scored 6,933 runs from the 99 matches he has played so far at an average of 42.01 with 15 centuries and 34 half centuries. The West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) said it was preparing to celebrate the event and will announce further details soon.
‘’Luke (Ronchi) also provides us with middle order batting cover as he’s a good player of spin bowling,’’ said Black Caps head coach Mike Hesson. Hesson confirmed that Daniel Vettori was not available for the tour saying he felt his bowling loads were not yet up to the intensity of Test cricket. He is expecting a far more formidable challenge from the West Indies team compared with the injury-hit side that toured here this summer.
“While we gained a convincing 2-0 Test series victory against the West Indies in December, they’ll be a totally different proposition in their conditions,’’ said Hesson. They’ll have the added motivation to perform well in the first match which will be Chris Gayle’s 100th Test.”
The latest Reliance ICC Test ranking released yesterday showed West Indies and New Zealand locked on 87 points each, both trailing Sri Lanka by two points. Darren Sammy’s men, on a high from an impressive run to the semi-finals of the recently-concluded T20 World Cup, will be hoping to carry the momentum into their three tests and two T20s against the Black Caps.
Squad: Brendon McCullum, Corey Anderson,Trent Boult, Mark Craig, Peter Fulton, Tom Latham, James Neesham, Luke Ronchi, Hamish Rutherford, Ish Sodhi, Tim Southee, Ross Taylor , Neil Wagner, BJ Watling and Kane Williamson.