Time was when the West Indies would roll into town, roll over the opposition and roll out with a swagger, another demolition job done.

Things are different now but there is hope that the current incarnation of the West Indies, who start their first test against New Zealand at the Basin Reserve tomorrow, will be a pointer to a brighter future.

Since those halcyon years of the 1980s and early 1990s, there have been lean times for West Indies cricket. The greats of the past have tried to help, but walked away in despair. Things sank really low to the point where people wondered if the region would simply sink without trace, in cricket terms, so far had the game fall away.

Now a few titles have been won, albeit in T20 cricket and men and women, but they have discovered if they show some heart, win some battles the support will be back.

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The Windies have won world T20 championships in 2012 and 2016 and have started picking up test victories. The fact that they have had to go through a qualifying series to get a spot in the next World Cup in 2019 in England, given their storied history in the 50-over format, is barely believable.

But captain Jason Holder is optimistic good times are around the corner.

He is averaging 30 with the bat, usually around No 8, and his fast-medium seam bowling should be better than it has been – 52 wickets in 28 tests at 37.

There are bright batting talents emerging, lively Shannon Gabriel is making an impact with the new ball and the shoots are coming through to offer encouragement, albeit a long way short of the great days.

''We are still not the finished product but I'm really pleased with the progression of the side,'' Holder said.

Most notable was the victory over England at Leeds, highlighted by a pair of centuries from batsman Shai Hope, the first time ever that had been achieved on the old ground in first-class cricket.

Holder is wary of leaning on that match too strongly.

''It has done a lot for self belief, but for me that's gone,'' Holder said.

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''We can pull on it at times when we're down if we need to. But we need to create our future and live in the present.''

The last West Indies test win in New Zealand was a notable one, and an inglorious experience for the hosts.

It was at the Basin, 1995 with the Windies winning by an innings and 322 runs, one of the worst test test results New Zealand has had. Speedster Courtney Walsh ripped through the batting twice, finishing with scarely believable figures of 13 for 55 off 36 overs.

Holder likes the shape of his young batting group, praised fast bowler Shannon Gabriel's work ethic – ''he has always excited me and people throughout the Caribbean. He looks pretty good, pretty sharp''.

And with only Gabriel and opener Kieran Powell for company among the 2013 touring group, Holder is hoping the general air of exuberance plays its part.

''This is a new look side. Guys here are eager to play for the West Indies. We are heading in the right direction.''