Friday 29 June 2012

Preview West Indies v New Zealand in Lauderhill

I feels odd to be talking about a match in USA. Despite the fact that USA is actually a much bigger cricket audience than people realise, it still is not known for cricket. But for the second time in the last 2 years, New Zealand are heading to Lauderhill to play a couple of T20 matches. This time the opponent is the West Indies.

The last series was played in particularly benign conditions. There was nothing in the pitch for either the bowlers or the batsmen, and as a result the scoring was at or under 6 an over for every innings in the series.

There has been a lot of work at the Central Broward Regional Park Stadium, and it looks amazing on Google maps, but preparing cricket pitches is a dark art, and not one that is particularly easy. If they manage to get a good pitch in only the 3rd and 4th real match there it will be quite an accomplishment.

The headlines of this tour will all be about the likes of Narine, Gayle, Pollard, Guptil, Taylor and Southee. However given that it is quite likely to be low and slow, the match is likely to be decided by the skiddy spin bowlers and crafty medium pacers. The players who I'm going to be expecting to play a big role are Marlon Samuels, Nathan McCullum, Jacob Oram and Darren Sammy.

Making the ball arrive at a different time to what the batsman expects is the key to this sort of pitch, and these 4 bowlers are all very good at that. All have a good recent record with the ball too.

Bowling over the last 2 years in T20I:

MN Samuels768.665.37
NL McCullum101313.696.59
DJG Sammy8626.007.03
JDP Oram2226.007.42

The other bowler that I look forward to watching is Roneel Hira. Probably my favourite player who is currently playing, Hira is a heady bowler, dynamite fielder and effective batsman. He had a great HRV Cup in the New Zealand domestic season, and he will need to really step up in this series as Daniel Vettori has made himself available for T20's again, and he needs to show that he offers enough for the selectors to be prepared to run two left arm orthodox bowlers.

The other one that I am interested to see is Samuel Badree. I watched him bowl for Trinidad and Tobago, and he looked like he was quite tricky. On a slow pitch he could be a difficult prospect also.

So those are a couple of things for those of you watching this match to look out for. Hopefully it will be a pitch that provides plenty for both bat and ball. If it does this could be a fantastic series, but either way both teams are an interesting mix of crafty cricketers and outstanding athletes that could make this an absorbing match even on a bad pitch.

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