A few years ago, a New Zealand player of the recent past was asked to speak to an Auckland school first XI to impart some wisdom on the game to young, impressionable minds.

Imagine then the discomfort of the listening coaches and parents when this player told the players in no uncertain terms to forget about any ambitions to play test cricket. Concentrate, he told them, on T20 cricket.

That's the future lads. Don't waste your time on aiming for the top. It went down like a shot duck.

So it was interesting to hear former captain Stephen Fleming give a similar message this week: don't beat yourself up trying to be the best test team in the game; make sure your limited-overs cricket is in the strongest possible shape.


There, he suggested, is where New Zealand have the game, and the skills, to make an impact on the rankings.

New Zealand are already No 1 in T20 cricket, and sit a solid fourth in the 50-over game, behind Australia, South Africa and India.

They will go fifth in the test table, hopping over Pakistan, if they beat Bangladesh at Christchurch in the current test. India, Australia, South Africa and England are above New Zealand.

Fleming suggested New Zealand are never going to top the test tree, will have brief periods when they'll have sufficient top class players to make an impact, before subsiding back to mid table.

History suggests he has a point, but that does not mean giving up striving to be the best in the premier form of the game.

"So why not focus on the shorter forms of the game? We can win World Cups - we got close last year. And we can win T20 because we have that type of player," Fleming said.

It should be pointed out that Fleming, calling for a change in mindset in New Zealand cricket, makes his living from T20 cricket, with highly-paid coaching gigs in the Indian Premier League and Big Bash League.

One perspective would have it that T20 cricket may be a route for some players with a particular skill set.

That should not mean a wholesale downscaling of ambition in test and first-class cricket.

One current senior New Zealand player, whenever the question is raised, makes it clear that test cricket is the pinnacle for him - always has been, always will.

And while tailoring the season to capitalise on the rise of the T20 market, and opportunities, that certainly should not mean New Zealand giving up on aspiring to reach the top in the test game.

It might never happen; that doesn't mean raising the white flag.