New Zealand in England 2013 May 1, 2013

NZ series more than Ashes entree - Hesson


New Zealand slipped into London almost unnoticed on Tuesday, minus their captain Brendon McCullum and senior batsman Ross Taylor who are at the IPL, but are determined to leave their mark on an English season where the main attraction is their trans-Tasman rivals.

"We don't really have anything to do with the Ashes," Kane Williamson, the captain in McCullum's absence, said. It helps, no end, that the series played during March between these two teams was very competitive. Talk about flat pitches killing the game was off the mark - weather was the bigger factor in the first two Tests - and New Zealand came within one wicket of a famous victory in Auckland. That is enough for this return contest to be given the respect it deserves.

Mike Hesson, the New Zealand coach, hopes his team can provide more than a footnote to the summer. "I can guarantee from our perspective these two Tests are massive for us. We are making progress as a side and we certainly wouldn't like to be the entrée for the main course later on."

He was even keen to see the benefits in having two key players arrive late for the tour. McCullum and Taylor are due on May 7 or 8, ahead of the second warm-up match against England Lions at Grace Road. McCullum will still have a role to play in the early days of tour, albeit from thousands of miles away, and is in regular contact with Hesson.

"I'm actually quite happy with it because with a squad of 15 it's quite hard to get everyone a game," he said. "Those guys, although they haven't been playing a lot, they have been training a lot. To get our whole squad involved in those two warm-up games is critical for us. In previous tours we haven't even had any warm-up matches so two is huge. There will be no complaints from us about being underdone."

It is nothing new for a touring side to arrive in England for the May Tests in dribs and drabs - Sri Lanka and West Indies have faced similar situations in recent years - and is unlikely to be the last time it happens. Perhaps there should be a sense of gratefulness, and relief, that McCullum and Taylor will be here in time for the Test series. They are both fascinating sub-plots to the series; McCullum's leadership was a key part of the contest in New Zealand, while Taylor's return to the set-up has been far from smooth.

The abiding memory of the previous series was the dramatic final day where England survived nine wickets down through defiance from Matt Prior, Ian Bell and Stuart Broad - plus Monty Panesar's desperate dive - and the feeling of a fantastic opportunity missed by New Zealand still lingers.

"I've tried to forget about that game to be honest, especially the end of it," Hesson admitted. "We felt we dominated but that's the game. These two Tests will be tough in very different conditions. We gained a lot of confidence, but it was a series in isolation and we can't get carried away."

After the upturn in their fortunes during March, there are unlikely to be many major selection headaches leading into the Test series. Hesson confirmed that Hamish Rutherford and Peter Fulton will continue their opening pairing even though Martin Guptill is in the squad again after injury, so the key decision may come down to whether they retain a spinner - Bruce Martin - in their XI or go with four quick bowlers. Doug Bracewell, who missed the home series after injuring his foot on a piece of glass, and Mark Gillespie are the extra pacemen in the squad.

Andrew McGlashan is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • paul on May 3, 2013, 4:26 GMT

    Gagg, dear I say it, but I believe NZ would have won the third test had they had someone else leading that team....not being a smart arse, but truely, NZ missed some very vital moments during that test....hopefully the skipper has learnt from the experence .....even though the Sky hyped up commentators might beg to differ, changing the field placings every two minutes isnt what many would call aggressive captaincy....many would say "look at me captaincy"....the catches taken in the second innings werent in those very unusal postions players were placed but actuallly in the slips etc where you normally expect catches to go....all froth and very little beer.....lets hope NZ can kick on next week and finish the job....England should be very careful this time around.

  • Peter on May 2, 2013, 23:44 GMT

    @landl47. That day, the weather & pitch that the Kiwis beat us in Hobart smacked of English conditions. And believe me, the Kiwis were outstanding in their pace bowling, they should have won much easier than they did, & totally outplayed us. If they re-produce anywhere near that form, your guys will get a very good tune-up for the Ashes & I certainly wouldn't be taking them lightly. I'll be watching the series with great interest, I do enjoy test cricket.

  • Sean on May 2, 2013, 19:23 GMT

    I expect a much tougher series against NZ than the ashes.

    NZ actually have a plan.

  • D on May 2, 2013, 18:11 GMT

    England underestimated nz lat time. Seriously doubt they will this time plus it harder for nz there season ended so they need game time remove the rust where English side are starting of there season so hopefully be better condition. Ones in ipl be in condition even though shorter format. I think it be closer then some think but I'd say England hopefully come out on top . Also hopefully it gives us tough game for up coming ashes which also be closer dependent on whether batsmen of Australia can make runs on help that there decent bowlers can give them .

  • Randolph on May 2, 2013, 15:48 GMT

    I'd say England are in a lot of trouble, their house of cards will collapse to NZ's medium paced trundlers. No doubt though as per usual they will be saved by rain.

  • sri on May 2, 2013, 10:09 GMT

    NZ will be entree if Eng could find some new talent in this series. I know ENG wouldn't mind 0-2 but imagine NZ bowlers shattering the likes of Bell (or even injuring them). 0-2 loss with key players getting injured is surely not a way to start the Ashes. Time to show some respect. Go NZ fight it out.

  • Dummy4 on May 2, 2013, 8:31 GMT

    @jonbuoy. that may be the attitute, I cant wait to see the looks on the pommie faces when they lose a test series to NZ for not taking them seriously.

  • Dummy4 on May 2, 2013, 7:34 GMT

    @Landl47, I think the Kiwis are far more likely to swing the ball about than the Aussies. None of the Aussies really swing it consistently whereas Boult will swing it all day I'd expect. Will make for an interesting series.

  • Oneil on May 2, 2013, 7:28 GMT

    Predicting kiwis to Beat England.And Cant wait to see poms silent in their ashes confident before the ashes start!Common NZ.

  • Garry on May 2, 2013, 7:14 GMT

    The last time we played a test against Australia we won, the last time we played a test against England we were unlucky not to win and were definitely the better team throughout the 3 match series. I would be disappointed if we didn't win the series.