The Cricket West Indies (CWI) selectors will next week convene to choose the West Indies squad for the provisional 19-day playing tour of New Zealand.
Cash-strapped CWI will be expected to shuffle their pack, which was heavily laden with players from Barbados for their 2-1 Test defeat at the hands of hosts England in July.
The Windies, licking their wounds following their abject failure after winning the first of three Test matches, were ably led by Barbados all rounder Jason Holder. Yet his leadership as captain was criticised after the seven-week tour, with former internationals claiming that he favoured his compatriots from the island.
It will be a tough ask for Holder’s troops as the Windies last won on New Zealand soil a quarter of a century ago. However, they did register back-to-back victories in the Caribbean in 2012, following up their comfortable nine wicket success in the 1st Test at Antigua with a five wicket triumph at Jamaica’s Sabina Park.
The Windies’ scheduled tour of New Zealand comprises five matches, subject to the final COVID-19 medical protocols being approved by the CWI Medical Advisory Committee and the regional government health and aviation officials.
New Zealand Cricket (NZC) have received government approval to proceed with plans to host international cricket, with the tour confirmed to run from November 27 to December 15 for a trio of T20 internationals and a pair of Test matches.
Holder was restricted to a 25-player squad in England, which was suddenly sluggish in the 2nd and 3rd Tests. Although that was possible because of the safety protocols with the coronavirus crisis, which left the tourists simply playing cricket, practising and staying in their hotel.
However, the Windies are anticipating to utilise more players to strengthen their squad for the forthcoming New Zealand tour. New Zealand have been inactive since March, when they played hosts Australia in a behind closed doors one-day international in Sydney.
Roger Harper, one of the CWI selectors and a former all rounder with the Windies, explained that an expanded squad of reserves would be included in keeping with the new safety protocols regarding the coronavirus pandemic.
Guyana-born Harper informed Jamaica radio station i95FM Sports: “There will be a T20 international team and of course the Test team. And as usual now, we will be taking some reserve players on tour, which will serve to provide back-up players if needed during the tour as well as provide practice players.
“What is likely to happen, because of scheduling, is that the Test team is likely to go out first and have an early camp. And some of the T20 players who are in the region will travel with that Test team, and the T20 players who are involved in the Indian Premier League will join the team later.
“There was a briefing recently where the players were informed of what is taking place, what measures have been put in place and what safety protocols will be during the tour.
“When we look at finalising the squad, we will discuss with them whether they are willing to tour or not [and get] their position on that. But at this point, we’ve not had a definite indication from anyone that they’re not interested [in going on the New Zealand tour].”
The Windies were missing three potentially players for the recent tour to England, the first Test worldwide to be played in a biosecure environment due to the coronavirus crisis. Left-hander batmen Darren Bravo Bravo (Trinidad & Tobago) and Shimron Hetmyer (Guyana), along with all-rounder Keemo Paul (Guyana), declined their selection for the ~Windies due to their coronavirus fears.
New Zealand’s management of the coronavirus pandemic is in stark contrast to England, with just 1,500 confirmed infections and 25 deaths.
The Windies, as defending T20 World Cup champions, are set to start their tour by facing the hosts at Eden Park in Auckland for a T20 match under floodlights. The match at Eden Park is the venue where the two sides met in their inaugural T20 contest in 2006, which ended in a tie and forced a thrilling bowl-off.
The T20 series is pencilled in to move to Mount Maunganui’s Bay Oval for two matches, the first a daytime contest with the following encounter under floodlights.
The 1st Test is scheduled to take place at Seddon Park in Hamilton, which is renowned for the tranquil and idyllic village green setting. The tourists are due to travel south to Wellington for the 2nd Test at the Basin Reserve, which is the only cricket ground to boast New Zealand Historic Place status because it is the oldest Test cricket ground in the country.
These T20 internationals will kick-off an 11-month schedule of matches building up to the ICC T20 World Cup, which has been shifted to October 2021 in India.
Whether the CWI will deliver some surprises from the squad that competed in the three Test tour to England remains to be seen. Windies head coach Phil Simmons will be determined to see vast improvements from those dismal displays in their last two matches at Lancashire CCC’s Old Trafford ground in Manchester, with a shake-up required to try to bowl over hosts New Zealand.
New Zealand v West Indies provisional tour schedule
1st T20 international
Eden Park, Auckland
2nd T20 international
Bay Oval, Mount Maunganui
3rd T20 international
Bay Oval, Mount Maunganui
Seddon Park, Hamilton
Basin Reserve, Wellington
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