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January 28, 2013
The New Zealand coach, Mike Hesson, is under no illusions how brittle his Test side remains but has been buoyed by the one-day series victory against South Africa.
New Zealand were humbled by an innings in both Tests on the tour, which included being bowled out for 45 in Cape Town, before turning their fortunes around with one-day success and they came within a whisker of a whitewash only to lose the final ODI off the last ball.
''In Test cricket, we've still got a long way to go," Hesson admitted on his return to New Zealand. "We're a long way off the pace in Test cricket, we have to acknowledge that, and we know we have a lot of work to do."
Achieving one-day silverware went against recent form for New Zealand who had slipped to ninth in the rankings, but the form of experienced allrounders James Franklin and Grant Elliott, a fantastic hundred from Kane Williamson, and the emergence of Mitchell McClenaghan, the left-arm quick, were the catalysts for gritty performances.
"We had a few new faces and a few older ones that came back and they were really keen to make an impact and they did,'' Hesson said. "When they came back, they lifted the whole vibe. We were a bit down after the Test series, there was no doubt about that. We were clearly outplayed.
"But the work we put in between then and the end of the tour, mentally as much as anything, was pleasing. We attacked that first game with real aggression and I think we stuck at that throughout the whole series."
Hesson's focus now switches to the visit of England for a full tour which includes three matches in each format, starting with the Twenty20s, and the Tests in March will be another thorough examination of New Zealand's credentials in the longer format although they should be boosted by the return of Ross Taylor.
"The Twenty20 is first and that will be our focus for a start, but we''ll be trying to build on this series,'' Hesson said. "We want to improve with every series. We're not world beaters yet; we've played three pretty good games, but we're looking to improve more in the T20s and leading into the one-dayers."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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Plays of the Day from second ODI between South Africa and Pakistan, in Port Elizabeth
Plays of the Day from the third ODI between India and West Indies, in Kanpur