2 Aug 2015

Development key to Black Caps' success

9:54 am on 2 August 2015

Development is a key plank of the Black Caps current tour of South Africa and Zimbabwe with the tour effectively marking the beginning of New Zealand's buildup to the 2019 Cricket World Cup.

The first international match of the tour takes place tonight, with the opening game of the 3-match one-day series against Zimbabwe in Harare (7pm NZ time.)

With leading players Brendon McCullum, Tim Southee and Trent Boult not touring, much will be asked of players at the next tier.

In McCullum's absence Kane Williamson gets the chance to expand his captaincy experience.

Kane Williamson in action with the match-winning six against Australia at Eden Park

Kane Williamson in action with the match-winning six against Australia at Eden Park Photo: Photosport

But a change in captaincy won't lead to a change in approach with Kane Willamson leading the side, says coach Mike Hesson.

The Black Caps have been acclimatising in Potchesfroom in South Africa with a couple of low key warm-up matches and they're now in Harare for the first of three one dayers against Zimbabwe and one Twenty20 match.

While Zimbabwe are ranked a lowly 11th on the ICC one day world rankings, with New Zealand sitting in third spot, playing Zimbabwe at home is still a tough proposition.

Zimbabwe in fact won their last encounter in Bulawayo four years ago, beating the Black Caps by one wicket.

The two sides have contested 15 ODIs in Zimbabwe with the hosts winning four of those and the Black Caps 10, with one draw - although interestingly Zimbabwe have never beaten the Black Caps in Harare in their eight matches there.

All three of the one dayers in this series will be played in Harare.

Black Caps coach Hesson is continuing to introduce players to the environment with an eye to building to the 2019 World Cup.

"Two years ago we did the same with Corey Anderson, James Neesham and Mitch McClenaghan that was their first tour," he said.

"In this group we have guys like George Worker and Ben Wheeler who are trying to make their way in international cricket. If we are looking ahead to four years' time and the next World Cup this is the perfect opportunity to start that [development]."

That same sentiment applies to the leadership opportunities for Kane Williamson.

Hesson is confident the captaincy will not affect his batting and that the Black Caps will not change their attacking style which has served them so well.

"We can only make our judgement based on history and last year in the UAE Kane scored a huge amount of runs and he evolved as a leader throughout the tour. This is another opportunity to continue his development.

"They are (different characters Brendon and Kane) but Kane is a senior player that has a say in the way we play the game. We don't all revolve around one person. Brendon obviously makes all of the decisions on the field but there are a number of players who play a part in that."

Hesson is also looking for left arm pace bowler Mitchell McClenaghan to step up and lead the bowling group in the absence of Southee and Boult.

Black Caps coach Mike Hesson expects Mitchell McClenaghan to lead the bowling group.

Black Caps coach Mike Hesson expects Mitchell McClenaghan to lead the bowling group. Photo: Photosport

"Mitch is a senior player on this tour... he has got some confidence from the (English) county scene recently."

The series is also an important one for the rehabilitation of fast bowler Adam Milne, who suffered a heel injury that ruled him out of the final stages of the Cricket World Cup, the IPL and the England Tour.

"Anyone who bowls at 150km per hour puts a lot of stress on the body and is going to struggle to stay on the park all the time," said Hesson.

"We accept that. That is what we want to see from Adam. He has worked extremely hard to get back. He has had some tough times with an injury that has lingered but he is feeling good. The key for us is to not go too hard too soon with him."

Hesson will also be keeping a close eye on Central Districts all-rounder George Worker, who is set to make his international debut at some stage.

Worker intially missed out on the tour party but was a late call-up after Northern Districts all-rounder Mitchell Santner was ruled out of the tour with a fractured thumb.

Hesson isn't suprised the 25-year-old Worker, a former national Under-19 captain, has taken a while to breakthrough at the top level.

"Everyone matures a little differently whether that be from a cricket point of view or a life point of view. Some guys peak early and then need a break. George has done the hard yards and deserves his opportunity through performance."

While Zimbabwe lost their recent series against India 3-0 they did push them at times and Hesson conditions will be tough, especially batting first with the earlier 9am starts (local time).

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