At 7:00am on a Sunday morning only the most ardent of BLACKCAP fans will rise to watch the first Twenty20 against the West Indies.
The first match of the series will be interesting for a number of reasons, not least how the conditions play at Central Broward Regional Park in Miami Florida.
But of more significance is which of these extremely evenly matched sides will take first blood? One feels that early results could be decisive for how the rest of the series pans out.
The West Indies, despite coming off two tough series, are difficult to predict and are not a team you want to let settle quickly.
Kyle Mills says it best;
“I find the West Indies a really hard team to read,” Mills explained.
“They’re a bit like Pakistan – they’re either amazing or they’re really inconsistent. It’s sort of how you strike them on that day, or that series.
“You don’t know what you’re going to get.”
He couldn’t be more right.
While many would have noticed that West Indies lost both their series to Australia and England, there were certainly some sparkling displays of brilliance.
War horse Shivnarine Chanderpaul has scored eight half centuries in his last ten dismissals, while Marlon Samuels had a Test average of 96.5 in the English series. Tino Best really stole the show though, with the number 11 batsmen putting on a spectacular 95 against the Poms – a world record.
And that was all without Chris Gayle.
If you’re starting to feel a little too nervous, rest assured there’s a reason on two that give BLACKCAPS fans a reason to be optimistic as well.
Recent encounters have seen New Zealand get the better of their Caribbean counterparts, having not lost a series to them since 2008. The record books show that they are one of the BLACKCAPS favourite opponents, being the first team for New Zealand to record a Test victory over in 1956.
But after a summer of highs and lows the Kiwis could quite easily be seen as just as unpredictable as the West Indies themselves. It’s just another factor as to why the series is expected to be so close.
It’s a fact not lost on the players
“It will be a good series right through to the Tests,” said fast bowler Tim Southee.
“It’s two evenly balanced sides. There is world class players in both sides and it will be an exciting challenge.
“I think we’re all up for it.”
And what is up for grabs is quite substantial. A victory in the Test or ODI series promises a rise in the ICC rankings, while the Twenty20s will provide crucial momentum for the World Cup later this year.
The series, as John Wright sees it, will be “a war of attrition.”
First battle is at 7:00am tomorrow morning.
Set your alarms and get ready for a heck of a contest.