New Zealand Cricket's reconnaissance for next year's World Cup has delivered significant gains midway through the English county season.
Intelligence is being sought to prepare for the 46-day tournament, starting May 30. By this time next year, the champion will be known.
Sixteen current or former Black Caps are contracted to 12 English counties across various formats.
Those counties have venues where New Zealand will play five of its eight round robin games.
The remaining three – Glamorgan's Sophia Gardens, Surrey's Oval and Lancashire's Old Trafford – are grounds where players have also featured this season.
The idea behind the strategy is to cover all possible World Cup contingencies as New Zealand seek to emulate, and preferably better, their maiden final appearance in 2015.
Black Caps signed to play in England this season
Adam Milne - Kent
Colin de Grandhomme - Warwickshire
Colin Munro - Hampshire
Corey Anderson - Somerset
Doug Bracewell - Northamptonshire
Grant Elliott* - Warwickshire
Ish Sodhi - Nottinghamshire
James Franklin* - Middlesex
Jeetan Patel* - Warwickshire
Kane Williamson – Yorkshire
Lockie Ferguson - Derbyshire
Martin Guptill - Worcestershire
Matt Henry - Kent
Neil Wagner - Essex
Ross Taylor - Nottinghamshire
Tom Latham - Durham
*unavailable for international cricket
New Zealand World Cup round robin itinerary
June 1, v Sri Lanka, Cardiff (Glamorgan)
June 5 (D/N) v Bangladesh, The Oval (Surrey)
June 8 (D/N) v Afghanistan, Taunton (Somerset)
June 13, v India, Trent Bridge (Nottinghamshire)
June 19, v South Africa, Edgbaston (Warwickshire)
June 22 (D/N), v West Indies, Old Trafford (Lancashire)
June 26, v Pakistan, Edgbaston (Warwickshire)
June 29 (D/N), v Australia, Lord's (Middlesex)
July 3, v England, Chester-le-Street (Durham)
July 9, semifinal, Old Trafford (Lancashire)
July 11, semifinal, Edgbaston (Warwickshire)
July 14, final, Lord's (Middlesex)
Key sounding boards - Tom Latham, Matt Henry and Ross Taylor
The trio have been immersed in England this season and each has played at four of New Zealand's eight World Cup venues, more than any other Black Cap.
Taylor's significance is obvious as the senior pro, who has travelled to England on the past three tours, and two Champions Trophys. His spell at Nottinghamshire shapes as pivotal, given New Zealand play India there.
Henry has revelled in English conditions and must challenge for a regular 50-over place at the World Cup, if he sustains his form. He tops the county championship division two wicket table with 49 at 13.40, 15 dismissals more than anyone else. He has the second-equal most wickets in the Royal London One-Day Cup with 16 at a 34.43 average and 5.55 economy rate.
Latham has captained Durham across all formats and spent valuable time at Chester-le-street, where New Zealand meet England in their last round robin match. He has a first-class average of 29 and List A average of 31.87 at a strike rate of 80, and has excelled in the T20 competition with an average of 50.4 and strike rate of 150.
Key setback – Mike Hesson's resignation
The soon-to-be former coach was renowned for his forensic analysis of variables which could influence matches.
Players could have expected inquisitions on how opposition, grounds or conditions fared in England. Hopefully there is no reinvention of the intelligence wheel when his successor emerges. Whoever that is a) needs access to the same material and b) know how to pan for cricketing nuggets from an avalanche of raw material.
Key advantage – The global village
Players are spending more time with international opposition, often in the same dressing room, particularly since the advent of Twenty20 franchise leagues more than a decade ago. That will occur in England this season.
Such familiarity means procuring a competitive advantage has never been easier. Any gleanings must be bottled and released when the right time comes.
Weakest venue – Old Trafford
Six New Zealanders – Latham, Taylor, Lockie Ferguson, Martin Guptill, Neil Wagner and Kane Williamson - have played at the Manchester ground this season, but runs and wickets have been scarce.
The highlight has been Taylor's 58 in a List A game against Lancashire on May 17. Further stressing New Zealand's scarcity of intelligence at the venue is that they have played one international – a 56-run T20 loss to England in 2015 – in the last decade.
They meet the West Indies and have a possibly semi-final at the ground during the World Cup.
Similarly, The Oval, where New Zealand play Bangladesh, poses problems because only one Black Cap – Adam Milne – has played there this season, taking three for 22 to help Kent defeat Surrey in a T20.
Strongest venue – Edgbaston
This is handy because it's where New Zealand will play matches against South Africa, Pakistan, and a possible semi-final. Past Black Caps Jeetan Patel and Grant Elliott lead the Warwickshire first-class and one-day sides and Birmingham Bears Twenty20 franchise respectively.
Many incumbent Black Caps have played at the ground on previous England tours and there have been significant Kiwi performances this season. Those include Tom Latham's 58 from 34 balls to lead Durham to an 18-run T20 victory, Colin de Grandhomme's 63 not out from 33 balls in the same match, and Doug Bracewell's four for 71 and 81 scored for Northamptonshire against Warwickshire in the County Championship.