It is ironic that the West Indies travel here to pick up the pieces in their ICC Cricket World Cup campaign, with residents still doing so after exactly four years.
On the eve of the anniversary of the Christchurch earthquake which killed 185 people on February 21, 2011, the West Indies are still shaken by their poor bowling performance in Nelson but must pull themselves together when they face Pakistan tomorrow (6 p.m. T&T time) to avoid any more tremors in this competition.
When the team bus passed the Cathedral in the heart of town yesterday, it brought home the account to the infrastructural devastation the quake did. In most areas, the town still reflects a place trying to rebuild in total contrast to the developed Nelson.
But Hagley Oval is a glorious sight and the West Indies who did not practice yesterday, but rather were locked behind doors in a two-hour, strategic meeting, then took to the gym for an intense training and pool session. Between today and tomorrow they will be batting and bowling feverishly in the nets trying to reverse their horrific luck.
Sulieman Benn, the 33-year-old left arm spinner whose presence at the Saxton Oval was sorely missed, indicated he was ready and rearing to go, so too did his colleague Nikita Miller who also delivers with a similar southpaw style.
It is likely they might both play here, on a green and turning pitch, but Pakistan won’t be too bothered. The anxiety and eagerness to have Benn in the team, emphasises just how desperate the West Indies are for a star performer with the ball.
Benn has only picked up three wickets in this last six one-day internationals and has 32 all told in 31 appearances, compared to the absent Sunil Narine who has 73 scalps in 52 matches.
Like Benn, Miller might be a regional heavyweight, but only has 40 wickets in 45 ODIs spanned over a long period. So the options to be exercised are not extensive, if not impressive. However, someone must step up for this team who could face elimination before the quarter-finals.
It is generally felt that the fast bowling options are not any better. Kemar Roach and Jerome Taylor didn’t look up to scratch in the first match, but were responsible for leading the attack.
Roach, fresh from a long layoff due to injury failed to past 140mph on the speed gun with even captain Jason Holder, known for being less quick, produced more pace and life off the pitch. He looked short of work and was unusually roughed up by batsmen who shy away from pace.
Taylor appears tired and Andre Russell and Darren Sammy offer the same variation. So you are left with Sheldon Cottrell, who was highly praised by chairman (of selectors) Clive Lloyd, but is yet to consistently deliver.It all adds up to why the team and impatient fans are hoping that Benn, who didn’t play in that first match, can provide something positive for the Windies to shout about.