Black Caps gaining the All Blacks experience
Shared knowledge between Mike Hesson and his All Blacks counterpart, Steve Hansen, will play a role in New Zealand's campaign during the knockout stages of the World Cup.
New Zealand completed an unbeaten group stage with a tight three-wicket victory against Bangladesh in Hamilton and now have a week before their quarter-final in Wellington. Their opponents will not be known until late on Sunday when the West Indies-UAE and Ireland-Pakistan fixtures are complete.
However, regardless of who New Zealand face on March 21 it will come with an entirely new set of pressures. There are players who have been visitors to global quarter and semi-finals, but this is on home soil and with a team whose unbeaten run has pushed levels of expectation to new heights.
That is something the All Blacks, New Zealand's most famous sports team, are used to handling. In 2011, they won the World Cup with an 8-7 victory over France at Eden Park. Hansen was assistant coach to Graham Henry at the time and then assumed the top job at the end of 2011. There are also other connections between the two teams with captain Brendon McCullum an acquaintance of Richie McCaw, the current All Blacks captain. Before the tournament McCullum hinted he may seek out McCaw when the knockout stage arrived.
"I've already done that, a long time ago, and continue to do so," Hesson said of taking advice from Hansen who has been a friend for a considerable time. "Luckily enough that I have some friends in those environments and we talk on a casual basis. There are some good learnings from them. I won't go in to what he said but we talk pretty regularly and are both aware of the pressures you face at a World Cup at home."
Hesson believes he is getting a first-hand experience of the pressures that surround the All Blacks during a major tournament, admitting it has been hard to keep everyone happy even while New Zealand have beaten all-comers so far.
Three of the victories - against Sri Lanka, England and Afghanistan - have been very comfortable. The win over Scotland was a little messy with the bat, but with the defence of improving the net run-rate, while the Australia match became a low-scoring epic. The Bangladesh contest was the toughest all-round challenge New Zealand had received.
"The All Blacks are a good analogy, they have to win by a certain amount of points to get respect and if they win by more than that the opposition are rubbish - it's quite hard to find a middle ground," Hesson said.
"In all honesty I'm not sure what a perfect win is because we've beaten a lot of teams convincingly and we've been told we should have a closer game, and are under done, then you win a close game and you haven't played very well. In all honesty it's quite difficult to know what you have to do."
"We've won a lot of games comfortably but last night we were challenged chasing a score and to get over the line with different players standing up breeds a lot of confidence."
The chase included New Zealand's first hundred of the campaign, by Martin Guptill, and the highest partnership as he and Ross Taylor added 131 following the early losses of in-form pair of McCullum and Kane Williamson.
However, Hesson did concede the team had not been at their best against Bangladesh, especially in the way they closed out both innings. With the ball, they shipped 104 runs in the final 10 overs and then none of the established batsmen could finish the chase, leaving it to Daniel Vettori and Tim Southee to strike the final blows.
Four of the overs in the last 10 were bowled by Mitchell McClenaghan, who had been drafted in for the injured Adam Milne, the first change of the tournament for the New Zealand XI. He finished with eight overs for 68 and Grant Elliott was required to bowl two overs at the death.
"If you keep picking up wickets in the middle the death doesn't become as big a factor," Hesson said. "To be fair in the first 10 overs we could have won the game with the ball, it swung plenty and we created opportunities and if we'd taken them the death wouldn't have been a factor. But we didn't nail the death and we'll have to keep working on it."
While Milne's exclusion was framed as erring on the side of caution, Hesson said it was unlikely the fast bowler would have played even if it had been a knockout match but, with a week until the quarter, he was hopeful of him being available.
Andrew McGlashan is a senior assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo