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Saturday, 22 June, 2002, 01:48 GMT 02:48 UK
Playing cricket in paradise
Mark Richardson

There is a real charm to the Caribbean, perhaps even more charming now that Holding, Garner, Roberts, Marshall, Ambrose and Walsh are no longer roaming around in whites.

This is my first tour to the Windies and I love the place.

Island life is laid back, and as a result you have to be a little open-minded when it comes to organisation.

But you don't mind if things don't go quite to plan when you're playing in paradise.

It is the start of the rainy season so weather conditions for the most part have not been ideal for cricket and the team has not had much opportunity for net training.

Carl Hooper leads West Indies on a training run
West Indies are still tough on home soil

However, the rain generally comes in the form of intermittent showers and I'd still say the weather is pretty pleasant.

Our build-up for the first test has mainly involved practice when possible, sun-bathing, golfing, body surfing in the ocean, swimming in the pool and drinking in the bar, which also happens to be in the pool.

It is very easy to forget what you actually came here for.

I've come here to help salvage the tour. The one-dayers were disappointing.

After a weak start, probably due to a lack of recent game practice, we blew a couple of great chances to square the series.

Our bowling just wasn't up to scratch on some very docile cricket wickets. So now there is everything to play for in the Tests.

This West Indies team is on the improve but is not a side to fear.

It was disappointing to lose to them in the one-dayers, but now as we are ranked number three Test team in the world it is important we win the test series.

Limited Tests

From a cricket perspective I've been quite frustrated and annoyed over the last few weeks. I haven't played since the first test against Pakistan in Lahore.

Since then all I've been able to do is have a few throw-downs in the indoor nets at Auckland and three days of net training in Darwin before joining the tour over here.

Richardson is bowled in Barbados
Adam Sanford hits yours truly's off stump

The time off has been nice and I've been able to indulge the love of my life, surfing, but in reality I'm a professional cricketer and as such need to be playing and improving constantly.

With the World Cup looming, and much to my frustration, Tests have taken a back seat to one-dayers in the schedule.

We have very few Tests to play in the year and this tour, with only Two tests and no warm-up first class games, is indicative of the schedule.

So today I cursed myself when I missed a straight half-volley on 41.

Better than zero, especially after not much cricket, and batting a session seemed like an eternity.

But with a maximum of four innings to make a successful tour, to throw away a great start like that is a sin.

New Zealand in the West Indies

2nd Test, Grenada

1st Test, Barbados

One-day series

Mark Richardson

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