For anyone of my vintage who grew up watching the greats of West Indies cricket such as Viv Richards, Shiv Chanderpaul, Jimmy Adams, Brian Lara, Courtney Ambrose and Courtney Walsh, there is a sense of bewilderment with this touring Windies team.

What those greats of the game must be thinking of this underperforming team - who are about to start two final Twenty20 games against the Black Caps at Mount Maunganui's Bay Oval tonight - is anyone's guess.

The Windies have those two games left to salvage something from the tour, but the damage has been done. I never thought I would see the day when Windies batsmen would be unable to play short-pitched bowling from New Zealand quicks.

This has to be the biggest irony of all, as the West Indies for decades ruled the roost on the back of a quartet of very fast and mean bowlers, the likes of whom the game had not seen before, nor since.

The pitches back in the Caribbean are the main issue, it seems.


They are devoid of the pace and bounce that helped Richards, Lara and co learn their craft against quick bowling on bouncy pitches. Now spinners and dibbly-dobblers dominate the wicket columns, to the detriment of the game in the Caribbean.

New Zealand pitches used to be like that but not any more, thank goodness. The strategic move by NZ Cricket to prepare fast, bouncy wickets has been a master stroke for our players. How Martin Crowe would have loved to have batted in conditions that Kane Williamson and Ross Taylor are thriving on today.

But for diehard cricket fans in the Western Bay, all these issues are for another time to ponder.

Tonight from 7pm the Black Caps and Windies play game two in the Twenty20 series after game one was another easy win for the Black Caps in Nelson, with game three to come at Bay Oval on Wednesday.

Hopefully Williamson will win the toss on his home ground and bat first, ensuring the expected capacity crowd of 10,000-plus gets a decent game.

The cricketing world will be watching and Bay Oval should impress the huge viewing audience, with the extended grass banking and new lights set for their international debut. It was a bold move by Bay Oval Trust and their generous backers to go with the newfangled LED lights and become the first cricket ground in the world to use them.

It has paid off with Pakistan, England and the ICC Under-19 World Cup teams to play here over the next six weeks.

But having the best lights and newest digital scoreboard in the country is one thing. What really matters is the quality of the pitch, and the Bay Oval staff have surpassed all expectations.

If the Windies want a low "Bunsen burner" like their home tracks they are in for a shock. The pace, consistent bounce and carry in the Super Smash games played so far indicates a superb wicket for short-form cricket.

The only disappointment is that homegrown hero Trent Boult is being rested for tonight's game. However, he will be available on Wednesday. No doubt he is licking his lips at the chance to bowl again at the fragile Windies top order.

Twenty20 international
Black Caps v Windies, Bay Oval, tonight, 7pm