Cricket: 'Enormous challenge' now even harder

By Kris Shannon

John Wright called the Black Caps' upcoming ODI series with the West Indies an "enormous challenge" and that test is now tougher with the revelation Ross Taylor's tour could be over.

New Zealand were thoroughly outplayed in all facets of the game during the two Twenty20 losses in Florida and now head to Jamaica with three days to to regroup before Friday's first one-dayer.

They will have to do so without their captain, as Taylor is set to be sidelined for the entire five-match series after damaging his left shoulder during Sunday's opening T20.

Taylor was targeting a return before the first of two tests on July 25 but, depending on further assessment later in the week, could return home to recuperate.

The injury adds to a terrible recent run for Taylor. He sat out the South African limited overs series after tearing his calf in January, before breaking his arm in the third test in March and missing the early Indian Premier League matches.

"It's been a frustrating six months for me," Taylor said. "I haven't spent a lot of time on the paddock and missed a lot more cricket than I would have liked."

Taylor's absence, which will see 21-year-old Kane Williamson captain the side, only adds to the Black Caps' task of closing the gulf in class their opposition have shown.

While the majority of New Zealand's players have been idle since South Africa left these shores, the West Indies have hosted Australia and travelled to England - a steady diet of cricket that has left them match-hardened and a step or two ahead of the tourists.

"You're always better when you come off hard opposition going into any series," Wright said. "We've worked really hard here but obviously have a lot of work to do."

On the twin defeats in the shortest form of the game, Wright was philosophical. Both matches saw the West Indies, led by Chris Gayle, set an imposing total the Black Caps never got near, but the coach thought his overmatched side may benefit from the reversals.

"We've got some young players here and [the West Indies] are a good team, particularly in their home conditions," he said. "We're going to have to work very hard to compete with them and win, and that's what we're looking to do in the next week.

"We've got to look at it as glass half full. We've had a run here, we know what we're up against and we've just got to spend a lot of time practising."

Wright pinpointed two areas in which the most significant improvements could be made on the practice pitch.

The Black Caps struggled against the spin of newcomer Sunil Narine, who took seven wickets across the two matches, while Gayle in particular dined out on some generous bowling to post successive half-centuries.

"We have to work really hard with our technique against spin, because every time it's come on it's slowed us down and we've lost wickets," Wright said.

"With our bowling, we just haven't been hitting the hole enough and they've been able to get under us and go over the boundary. With these power hitter we've got to be able to do that."

While obviously dismayed at his own plight, Taylor backed his teammates to make the required adjustments and excel in the one-day arena which better suited the Black Caps.

"We'll be disappointed but we have to get rid of any feelings from this," he said. "I'm sure there's a little bit of a flow-on effect but we've just got to forget about it. It is a new series and a new format."

- APNZ

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