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Cricket: Hesson set to reign on

Mike Hesson's proven success means it's likely he'll stay on as national coach. Photo / Getty
Mike Hesson's proven success means it's likely he'll stay on as national coach. Photo / Getty

New Zealand Cricket looks set to extend Mike Hesson's national coaching contract for at least two years beyond the World Cup.

The parties are expected to meet this week to decide what should be a fait accompli and confirmation of the sport's stability at elite level following the 39-year-old's overall success since being appointed in July 2012.

Negotiations have been due but, until recently, Hesson was overseas mentoring New Zealand to the 2-1 test series victory in the West Indies. It was the first time New Zealand won a test series against a top-eight side in 12 years and just the third instance of three consecutive test series victories.

Hesson is off contract after next year's World Cup but his unobtrusive work moulding a balanced and talented side across all formats has found favour. Professionalism, objectivity and effective communication have been his key tools.

Over summer, Hesson described himself as "no show pony" and a "clinical sort of bloke" who tries to "balance out the highs and lows".

There appear few barriers to inking a new deal. Hesson would doubtless like to retain many of his support staff, such as manager Mike Sandle and bowling coach Shane Bond. NZC and Hesson also need to work out Craig McMillan's future in the set-up after his temporary appointment as batting coach in the Caribbean.

Few other sticking points loom, other than duration and salary.

A culture where team is placed before self is emerging. That mantra is reflected in Hesson's inauspicious start, removing Ross Taylor as captain five months in and taking a further tough stance when Jesse Ryder and Doug Bracewell transgressed before the first India test. The pair haven't played for New Zealand since.

Under Hesson's watch - and that of fellow national selector Bruce Edgar and captain Brendon McCullum - almost every player has established or reinforced their reputation since the start of the year.

The final test against the West Indies in Barbados was laden with examples.

Kane Williamson made his highest test score of 161 not out while his team-mates played 44 overs of spin in the second innings without surrendering a wicket. A co-ordinated bowling attack also helped. Trent Boult and Tim Southee are established weapons but they built partnerships, and consequent pressure, with Neil Wagner and Mark Craig.

The latter, courtesy of his backing from Hesson and Edgar, was one of the best selection bolters New Zealand has produced.

Craig has usurped Ish Sodhi as the primary spinner with an aggressive style maximising bounce and turn. He took 12 wickets at 40.28 compared to Sodhi's eight wickets at 28.50, but averaged 64 with the bat.

- Herald on Sunday

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