West Indies batsman Jermaine Blackwood.
CMC

KINGSTON – Jermaine Blackwood said West Indies were braced for the onslaught from New Zealand’s speedsters during the upcoming two-Tests series but was confident the Caribbean side’s batting lineup had the ability to deal with the challenge.

West Indies are expected to encounter the likes of seamers Trent Boult, Tim Southee and Neil Wagner, all of whom proved a handful on the touring’s side last Test series in New Zealand three years ago.

In fact, Wagner snatched 14 wickets and Boult, 10, on that 2017 tour, propelling the hosts to a comprehensive sweep of the two-Test series as both matches finished inside four days.

“New Zealand have a very good [bowling] attack – they have experienced fast bowlers,” Blackwood told the Observer newspaper in Jamaica.

“Once we can go out there and conquer those bowlers we’ll come from the tour victorious.

“We know Wagner is going to come and give us a lot of short balls, so we have to be prepared for that and be prepared for anything.”

Blackwood missed the ill-fated tour after being dropped a couple of months earlier after a poor run which saw him manage just 15 runs from five innings.

However, he returned to the side this year following a three-year break, impressing with two half-centuries on the tour of England where he emerged as the Caribbean side’s leading batsman and the only one with over 200 runs.

West Indies’ batting struggled badly on the England tour but Blackwood said the return of left-handed strokemakers Darren Bravo and Shimron Hetmyer would be a filip for the department.

“I have confidence in the top order to now get the job done,” said Blackwood, who averages 30 from 31 Tests.

“Our top order didn’t really get the runs that we wanted in England, but I have all confidence in the top order because Darren Bravo is back in the team and Shimron Hetmyer.”

Both Bravo and Hetmyer opted out of the England due to concerns over the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

West Indies open their Test series on December 3 at Seddon Park in Hamilton before travelling to Wellington for the second Test bowling off eight days later at the historic Basin Reserve.

Three Twenty20 Internationals will precede the Tests, with matches in Auckland and Mount Maunganui from November 27-30.