West Indies is in trouble. They already lost the series, and their men’s T20 World Cup preparation is far from ideal. They haven’t played like themselves in the format since defeating Bangladesh 2-0 in early July, losing four of five T20Is to India and two more to New Zealand. Even worse, there is still no agreement on the whereabouts of some of its world-trotting T20 superstars and their availability for the main event.
Phil Simmons, the head coach of the West Indies, who has witnessed several of these disputes, was blunt when he stated: “It aches. No other way to put it exists. What can you do, though? I don’t believe I should be pleading with people to represent their nations on the field. I believe you will make yourself available if you wish to represent the West Indies.”
The availability of players like Sunil Narine, Andre Russell, Oshane Thomas, and Evin Lewis, to mention a few, is questionable, but West Indies has a little amount of time until the World Cup, when they must compete in the first round of matches. The CPL season, which runs from September 1 to October 1, should give the selectors a wider pool from which to choose, but with only three international matches left (two of which are away in Australia in early October), the management won’t be able to make any firm assessments about where they stand until Monday’s game against New Zealand.
In the meantime, New Zealand is assembling a team that they can comfortably use to continue their quest to wrestle the championship from their Trans-Tasman opponents in their own arena. With hitters and bowlers dominating the host team in the second game, New Zealand put on a more well-rounded effort. Mitchell Santner, however, shone out in both contests with figures of 3 for 19 and 3 for 15.
Santner has shown to be the ideal middle-overs player and will be deadly on Australia’s expansive fields. Another asset for New Zealand this year has been Glenn Phillips, who scored 76 runs off just 41 balls in the second game against the West Indies. He has compiled 301 runs from the middle order in 2022 at a strike rate of 143.3, positioning himself for a great World Cup finish. The New Zealand lineup has the sense of balance that the home team is now looking for.