Lara anxious to turn form around in first Test
... Viv making an impact
December 15, 1999
HAMILTON, New Zealand, (Reuters) - West Indies captain Brian Lara is anxious to turn around his team's form "on the road" ahead of the first cricket Test against New Zealand starting tomorrow (Wednesday evening Caribbean time).
The West Indies have not won a Test series on tour since New Zealand in 1995 and have lost their last eight Tests on tour (3-0 in Pakistan and 5-0 in South Africa).
"We only have two Test matches, so we will have to analyse things quickly and make sure that we are ready from the word go," Lara said.
"Winning the first Test would be nice, as then we would not lose the short series. All it takes is concentration for the ten days of Test cricket in December," the West Indies captain said.
Lara is encouraged by a positive mood in his camp and said the team is responding well to new coach Sir Vivian Richards.
"We think that he has done a tremendous job since his arrival. We hope that we can reap the fruits of his presence here for the future," Lara said.
"Viv has brought himself. He speaks from deep within whenever he speaks. Obviously, he has been a player of great ability and his presence has had a tremendous effect on the guys, as the great respect for him and his performances go before him.
"He tells it as he sees it and there is great pride coming back into our game," Lara added.
The West Indies tour selectors, Lara, coach Richards, Clive Lloyd and Test veteran Jimmy Adams will consider whether to play a spinner on a Hamilton pitch which often favours the seamers on the first morning.
The bowling choice could come down to a straight trade-off between off-spinner Nehemiah Perry and left-arm seamer Pedro Collins, who were both impressive in the just-completed drawn match against provincial side Auckland.
The West Indies are also armed with slow bowling choices in Adams, with his orthodox left-arm spin, and Shivnarine Chanderpaul's leg-breaks.
Courtney Walsh, who is just 12 wickets shy of Kapil Dev's world record of Test victims (434), Franklyn Rose and Mervyn Dillon appear certain starters.
Lara said the West Indies would name up to 13 players on the eve of the match and decide who would play after inspecting the pitch on the morning of the Test.
"We've got a full squad of 16 to choose from and that's great," Lara told reporters.
"For all of the places (where) there is competition, which, while difficult, is a healthy situation," he said.
Lara's joy at having a full squad to choose from was even greater after in-form opener Sherwin Campbell's apparent recovery from a slight leg injury. He had retired hurt as a precaution on the last day of a first-class match against Auckland on Monday.
Campbell scored centuries in both innings of that drawn match and West Indies management are confident he will play.
Yet the opening combination still poses some headaches for selectors in the two-Test series.
Campbell's first choice partner is Adrian Griffith but Darren Ganga has emerged as a contender after hitting his first century for West Indies in their second innings against Auckland.
New Zealand are still having trouble with their opening partnership and have dropped Matthew Bell for Gary Stead, who was drafted in to the tour of India last month to replace the injured Craig McMillan.
While performing creditably against India, Stead has struggled during his home summer, particularly in a New Zealand A match against England A.
New-ball bowler Dion Nash has been given a clean bill of health after a back injury, leaving New Zealand at full strength.
New Zealand selectors also face hard decisions among their bowlers and will choose between impressive seamer Andrew Penn, left-arm counterpart Shane O'Connor and left-arm spinner Daniel Vettori.
The Hamilton pitch is likely to be a green-top suiting seamers and the long-range weather forecast suggests rain.
West Indies (from): Brian Lara (captain), Sherwin Campbell, Adrian Griffith, Darren Ganga, Shivnarine Chanderpaul, Ricardo Powell, Jimmy Adams, Ridley Jacobs, Franklyn Rose, Pedro Collins, Nehemiah Perry, Mervyn Dillon, Courtney Walsh.
New Zealand (from): Stephen Fleming (captain), Matthew Horne, Gary Stead, Craig Spearman, Nathan Astle, Craig McMillan, Adam Parore, Chris Cairns, Dion Nash, Daniel Vettori, Shane O'Connor, Andrew Penn, Paul Wiseman.
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