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Gary Stead's focus on 'small gains' to avoid repeat of Super Over heartbreak

He will have two T20 World Cups and the next ODI event in 2023 to work towards in the white-ball formats

Andrew McGlashan
Andrew McGlashan
Kane Williamson and Gary Stead have a very good relationship, they have stressed  •  AFP via Getty Images

Kane Williamson and Gary Stead have a very good relationship, they have stressed  •  AFP via Getty Images

New Zealand head coach Gary Stead will focus on "small gains" the team can make over the next few years to try and avoid the repeat of the Super Over heartbreak that has become a feature of their limited-overs cricket.
Stead, who was given a three-year contract extenstion on Wednesday, will have two T20 World Cups and the next ODI event in 2023 to work towards in the white-ball formats while he believes the team can still challenge for a place in the World Test Championship final which remains scheduled for Lord's next June.
The first two years of Stead's time as Mike Hesson's successor included plenty of success, especially in Test and ODI cricket, but the most indelible moment will forever be the 2019 World Cup final against England at Lord's decided on boundary countback.
Since then New Zealand have been involved in three further Super Overs in T20Is against England and India, losing them all.
"I think over the two years I've been involved I counted up four or five Super Overs that we've got to, one that is a really common one and a number in the T20s as well," Stead said. "For me the gains you make at this level are miniscule so we are looking at one percenters to make sure that we can get over the line in those tough situations.
"The great thing is, from my perspective, when you look at some of the teams we have played, especially in the T20 game and perhaps haven't got up against India and England, we are very close and we can certainly find areas where we can improve. For me it's about making small gains, being consistent to the values we have around the team and making sure we are really clear on what we are trying to achieve."
There is 12 months to prepare for the next global limited-overs event now this year's T20 World Cup has been shifted due to Covid-19 with India 2021 the target followed by the Australia edition in 2022.
The more immediate goal, even though significant doubt remains about whether the WTC final will be able to go ahead as planned because of the number of postponed series, will be the home Test summer with series against West Indies and Pakistan going towards that competition where New Zealand currently sit fourth.
While Stead's first two years in the job will be remembered for the emotion of Lord's, arguably the most disappointing result was the 3-0 Test defeat in Australia after the team had arrived with high expectations. However, they bounced back impressively on home soil to beat India 2-0 which followed on from a 1-0 victory over England last November.
Stead believes the pool of players good enough to represent New Zealand has grown across all formats - as witnessed by Kyle Jamieson's impressive debut against India - and it puts them in a strong position for the challenges ahead.
"One of the really pleasing things for me is that in the last few years we've had quite a robust A-team programme that's allowed us to really test some of the depth of where we are below the Blackcaps," he said. "The encouraging thing for me is I genuinely believe there are 16-18 players in each of the formats who could represent New Zealand and that's exciting for us going forward."
Stead confirmed there would be a "global search" for a new batting coach to replace Peter Fulton who has left to become head coach of Canterbury and indicated a continuation of bringing short-term coaches into the national set-up.
The home summer for the New Zealand men's team is set to feature visits by West Indies, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Australia. David White, the NZC CEO, said he hoped to be able to announce the schedule within the next fortnight alongside a full domestic programme.
The fixtures have been drawn up and are awaiting final approval from the government around the managed isolation requirements. White confirmed that teams would be able to train and net during isolation under the plans put forward.

Andrew McGlashan is a deputy editor at ESPNcricinfo