Cricket: Hesson denies lack of focus on tests

By David Leggat in Cape Town

There's no confusing where New Zealand's cricketing priority lies, according to team coach Mike Hesson.

That said, he acknowledged that the 2015 World Cup, to be hosted by New Zealand and Australia, is about to become a focal point.

Hesson said any idea that the eyes were looking ahead to 2015 and that the minds were not firmly set on rectifying the first test disaster against South Africa in Port Elizabeth late this week was wrong.

"When we're away with the test side, that's certainly our focus," he said.

"I don't want to use that as an excuse. No doubt 2015 is a focus for the group and we'll focus on that when the one-dayers come around, and the T20s to a degree."

After the second test, New Zealand round off their South Africa tour latr this month with three ODIs at Paarl, Kimberley and Potchefstroom.

They have completed a 2-1 series loss in their T20 series which kicked off the tour.

"In terms of the test, for players, support staff and fans it's a huge focus.

"Our test game has been of a poor standard for a long time. We have the odd really good performance but we are searching for that level of consistency, and quite clearly we haven't found it yet."

Even though the World Cup remains two years away, thinking and strategising is already under way. However, Hesson made it clear that's not at the expense of the test game.

Among the issues rattling around is how best to utilize the country's best fast-medium bowlers. Bowling coach Shane Bond has talked of the need to be smart and enable the best test bowlers to keep their attention on that game, and others with particular skill sets could come into the frame for the limited-overs versions.

Hesson went a step further;. He doubts players can play all three forms over a sustained period of time.

"Not for a full year, no. Year in, year out playing all three is very difficult, especially for the bowlers.

"In all three forms, with batting in particular, you need fundamentals. That's something we don't neglect. The reason we do well in one-dayers and T20s is we have those foundation skills.

"With the ball, there's no doubt with T20 you do release it from different positions and can get into bad habits.

"We're looking at rotating certain guys so they get themselves ready for test and one-day series'."

New Zealand will have a day off on Tuesday (NZT) before flying to Port Elizabeth. They may yet get some good news when they arrive with the drums beating that champion seamer Vernon Philander is again in doubt for the match.

There was a large question mark hovering over Philander's place in the first test due to a hamstring injury. He recovered in time, took five wickets in his first 25 balls and won man of the match in the innings and 27-run win.

This time the hamstring is slightly lower in his left leg.

Several New Zealand players, including captain Brendon McCullum, James Franklin, Bruce Martin and Jeetan Patel, are appearing in a charity golf day to support young people suffering from depression, and great allrounder Jacques Kallis' foundation which provides funding and mentoring for young people to help them reach their sporting and academic potential.

Kallis has been rested for the three ODIs against New Zealand. There are four uncapped ODI players in the group, wicketkeeper Quinton de Kock, spinner Aaron Phangiso, batsman Farhaan Behardien and fast-medium Rory Kleinveldt.

South Africa's ODI squad: AB de Villiers, Graeme Smith, Hashim Amla, Farhaan Behardien, Quinton de Kock, Faf du Plessis, Colin Ingram, Robbie Petersen, Rory Kleinveldt, Ryan McLaren, Morne Morkel, Aaron Phangiso, Dale Steyn, Lonwabo Tsotsobe.

- NZ Herald

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