New Zealand not risking burnout - Taylor
New Zealand's heavy schedule before the World Cup is no more taxing than that of several other teams, Ross Taylor has said, though some experts had warned the team was risking burnout.
New Zealand play six more ODIs against Sri Lanka, then play two matches against Pakistan, ahead of two practice matches immediately prior to the World Cup. In all, the team is set to play 10 more one-day games before the World Cup curtain-raiser, and it is the crammed schedule that Martin Crowe has outlined as a concern, as he assesses New Zealand's chances in the tournament.
Many top players, including Taylor, have effectively been playing without a substantial break since late October, beginning with the home ODI series against South Africa. They have also since been on a full tour of the UAE, and have just finished a two-match Test series against Sri Lanka.
"It is a busy schedule, but every other nation is pretty busy as well," Taylor said. "A lot of nations will be playing that amount of games if not more."
New Zealand have already begun to rotate their players in the approach to the World Cup. Tim Southee is with the team, but was given the first two matches off, while Taylor was also rested for the ODI in Christchurch. Taylor suggested players will be moving in and out of the XI in the weeks ahead.
"Mike Hesson, Brendon McCullum and co. were wanting to rest players at different times to deal with that. I like playing. Any more than a week or so off, you just start getting a little bit rusty. I think the bowlers will be rotated the whole time and will be fresh."
Taylor said New Zealand had some way to go before they were World Cup-ready, but felt the necessary improvements needed only to come incrementally. One area of immediate concern is the top-order batting, which collapsed to 101 for 5 in the first ODI, leaving Corey Anderson and the lower-middle order with the responsibility of knocking off most of the 118 runs still required for victory.
"We see our power as one of our strengths, but we need to keep wickets in hand so the power-hitters can come in and play their shots," Taylor said. "It was good for Corey to play a bit more of a mature innings and get the team out of a sticky situation. But looking forward to the World Cup, if we can leave them to do their power hitting, then whether we're chasing a score, or setting one, we can probably have a bit more of a dip than we did in Christchurch.
"Hesson and Brendon have said that we know the style of play we want to play, so it's just fine-tuning that more than playing with a different technique. We know how we want to play on New Zealand wickets, and what's been successful over the last little while. If we can keep to that blueprint, the team will be confident and we'll be able to put in some good performances as well."
Andrew Fidel Fernando is ESPNcricinfo's Sri Lanka correspondent. @andrewffernando