Head coach Phil Simmons has described the World Test Championship (WTC) as "extremely significant" for West Indies in the lead-up to the first game against New Zealand at Seddon Park. West Indies are currently third from bottom on the WTC standings with a solitary win from five matches. In their most recent Test series in England, they lost 2-1 after winning the series-opener in Southampton.
"It's extremely significant," Simmons said of the WTC. "I think it's a format that we haven't done well for in a long time and we're trying to get ourselves back into the higher ends of the table where Test cricket is concerned and because of that initially we want to do that in the Test Championship but at the same time we want to be winners in Test cricket itself. So, it's important for us."
Simmons reckoned that the 2-0 loss in the T20I series, which ended on Monday, would not impact the team's preparations and performances in the upcoming Test series. Members of the Test squad have already had two workouts against New Zealand A in Queenstown last month.
While Darren Bravo made a century in the first tour game, it was Kraigg Brathwaite who led the visitors' batting in the second with a career-best 246, spending over nine hours in the middle. Bravo fell seven short of another hundred in the second fixture. West Indies Test captain Jason Holder also came out of quarantine, scoring 24 and picking up 1 for 45.
"The T20s and Tests are different," Simmons said. "The Test team has done well in Queenstown and have enjoyed a tough four-day game and they are now coming into the Test series with some confidence especially the batsmen who haven't had that for a while. So, I think the Test team is in a good place. Disappointed with the T20s, but moving onto the Test series now.
"I think it was a good thing we had to do 14 days [of quarantine] in which we practiced and then we had a three-day and four-day game. Some of the young players who haven't been here have gotten a little bit accustomed to Test-cricket conditions here which, I think, is going to be similar from where we were to here. I think they will offer a lot of mental strength having gone through the period that we went through there. We are going to push hard for them to put up the score they put up in the last four-day game."
So what are West Indies looking to take out of the Test series against New Zealand, who are formidable in their home conditions?
"Your aim is always to do well," Simmons said. Your aim is always to win cricket matches and I think that's our aim in both the A team and CWI XI games and Test matches. Our aim is to play cricket so that we can win each game."