• ‘We are making progress’

    Despite missing several key players, New Zealand are confident they can continue their growth as a team when they take on South Africa in two T20 internationals and three ODIs in August.

    The first T20 is at Kingsmead in Durban on Friday and New Zealand go into the match fresh from a crushing 80-run win over Zimbabwe in a one-off match in Harare last Sunday.

    The Black Caps also won a one-day series in Zimbabwe, recovering from a surprise seven-wicket defeat in the first match to win the next two convincingly.

    New Zealand have come a long way since their previous visit to South Africa in 2012/13 when they were thrashed in two Test matches before coming back strongly to win a one-day series.

    Coach Mike Hesson says that tour was the start of a New Zealand renaissance.

    ‘We hadn’t won a series in SA and we were under-strength, so to win that was a big achievement for us,’ Hesson said.

    ‘That was the start of a pretty big two years, culminating in a World Cup final and the Test team moving up the rankings steadily.’

    Hesson started the 2012/13 tour with major question marks over his role as coach after Ross Taylor was controversially deposed as captain.

    But New Zealand have soared since the appointment of Brendon McCullum as skipper. They have won four and drawn three of their last seven Test series, while the one-day side played thrilling cricket to reach the World Cup final against fellow co-hosts Australia this year.

    ‘A true test of a side is how well they go away from home,’ said Hesson. ‘We have started to win series away from home on a relatively consistent basis and that’s a sign that we are making progress.’ – AFP

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