John Wright remembers his days in the Caribbean in 1985. It would be hard not to, especially if you were an opening batsman.
Things were different in at least one respect - the New Zealand team leaving for the West Indies on Sunday won't be facing the fire and brimstone served up by the likes of Malcolm Marshall, Michael Holding and Joel Garner 27 years ago.
Wright was in the frontline, as the personification of the hard-scrapping, gritty opener back then. "I'm not sure if their attack is quite as fast now," the departing New Zealand coach said drily yesterday of the challenges ahead on a tour of two T20s, five ODIs and two tests. "Conditions will be slow. The wickets look slow and take a lot of turn, so it's almost like a war of attrition. You have to get in and bat long periods of time."
That wasn't always possible back in the years when the West Indies, by dint of champion batsmen and ferocious quicks, ruled the game by force.
They're a far cry from those halcyon years and that's why New Zealand will fancy their chances.
Blockbusting opener Chris Gayle is expected to be back to bolster the West Indies batting, having got back on talking terms with the West Indies board, while they have an unusual spinner, Sunil Narine, making his way in the team, and lively new ball bowlers, if not fit to pack the bags of Marshall, Garner and co.
The leadup has been lowkey, a group of fast-medium bowlers based in Brisbane for several days, but otherwise players have been left largely to their own devices. That's far from ideal, and Wright acknowledged there may be some early signs of rust as New Zealand's players prepare for a near non-stop run of international commitments through to the end of March next year.
New Zealand are ranked eighth among test nations, one spot below their hosts, but the placings are reversed for ODIs, while New Zealand are fourth on the T20 list to the West Indies' ninth.
Wright, who ends his time in the job after this tour, said the rankings should be a motivator, "but I believe if we play to our potential we'll be competitive against everyone".
This is a big week for the country's top players, with the list of 20 nationally contracted players due to be released today.
The highest-paid player, presumably national captain Ross Taylor, will receive a basic salary of $181,425 - with test, ODI and T20 match fees on top - with payments then dropping by increments of between $6000-$7000, and the bottom three players all receive $73,800.By David Leggat Email David