The New Zealand cricket team have the wicketkeepers but not the wicketkeeper-batsmen to instill confidence ahead of June's Champions Trophy in England.

The 3-2 series loss against South Africa was seen as the forum to decide whether Tom Latham or Luke Ronchi would take the gloves before talents like Tom Blundell or Glenn Phillips are developed next summer.

Latham scored two runs from three innings as an opener, compared to Ronchi's nine runs from two innings at No.5. Ronchi made one not out from a solitary delivery in Hamilton while Martin Guptill plundered at the other end. He came in during the 12th over in Auckland but could not convert.

Both delivered largely flawless performances behind the stumps. Latham took two catches and a stumping and conceded two byes, compared to Ronchi's two catches and no byes.

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Coach and selector Mike Hesson said both are "likely to be involved in the Champions Trophy squad".

"We're delighted with their excellent standard of wicketkeeping," he said. "But there's no doubt both were short of runs. Tom and Luke are aware of that more than anybody.

"However, it wasn't long ago Tom was a really good performer for us at the top of the order. Both are quality players who have gone through a tough period."

Latham has made 35 runs from his last seven ODI innings, but topped the New Zealand averages on the ODI tour of India with 244 runs at 61 as a specialist batsman. He completed his ODI best of 137 in the Boxing Day match against Bangladesh.

Faith in Ronchi's batting requires a more elephantine memory. He has not passed 50 in 32 ODI innings since clocking what remains the world record No.7 score of 170 not out against Sri Lanka in Dunedin on January 23, 2015.

The wicketkeeper decision will be deferred to May's tri-series with hosts Ireland and Bangladesh, when both players could feature in an Indian Premier League-depleted New Zealand side. Latham could captain the team in Kane Williamson's Sunrisers Hyderabad-enforced absence.

"That series will be critical to establish a pecking order for the balance of the side," Hesson said.

The coach felt the development of all-rounders Jimmy Neesham and Colin de Grandhomme was a series highlight, meaning they are likely to keep their places in the premier starting XI. The upshot is if Ronchi plays, he's likely to slot in at No.5, ousting Neil Broom. Broom was in his pomp at the start of the home limited overs summer with 22, 109 not out and 97 against Bangladesh and 73 and eight against Australia. That faded to four runs from three innings against South Africa.

"It's nice to have someone in the top five who keeps," Williamson said. "That gives us balance. With 'Ronk' we've tried him at the top, which was tough. He's batted with success at No.5 for Wellington, so that was the thinking."

Conversely, opener Dean Brownlie demonstrated quality strokeplay to get starts of 31, 34 and 24 in three of his five ODIs against the Proteas, but could not capitalise further.