Warm-up games often act as auditions, and New Zealand cricket coach Mike Hesson will have his pace bowlers rehearsing their lines during the next three days against the South African Invitational XI in Paarl.

With temperatures expected to reach the low 40s at Boland Park, Hesson will be able to use 12 players in the game that gets underway tonight and will serve as a vital lead-in to a tough two-test series against the Proteas starting at Newlands in Cape Town on January 2.

"We've been fortunate enough that we are able to play 12 so it gives us an opportunity to play an extra bowler so we can monitor our loads leading in to the test match,'' Hesson said.

"So we've got a number of guys we need to get up to speed and then we'll probably back them off towards the back end of the game.''


New Zealand's test squad is 15-strong and it appears back-up spinner Bruce Martin will be surplus to requirements for the warm-up game.

Other selection dilemmas will involve James Franklin and Dean Brownlie competing for the No 6 batting spot and Mitchell McClenaghan and Neil Wagner for the extra seamer's berth.

That space was created by Tim Southee's withdrawal from the tour with a thumb injury.
Veteran Chris Martin has spent the past few test matches carrying the drinks but appears a likely replacement for Southee given his experience and decent record against South Africa in the past.

Doug Bracewell, Trent Boult and Martin appear to be the likely seam unit but if Hesson opts for a four-man pace attack will have to make a call between Wagner and McClenaghan, which could be a fearsome mix on the quick South African wickets.
Wagner hasn't lived up to the lofty expectations placed on him since he came in to the national side earlier this year, while McClenaghan was the form bowler of the Twenty20 series against the Proteas that New Zealand lost 2-1.

Hesson's top-order will also have a slightly different feel given the side's best batsman, Ross Taylor, was unavailable following the fallout over his dismissal as captain.

Peter Fulton has showed plenty of form opening for Canterbury on the domestic circuit this summer and new skipper Brendon McCullum has hinted he may drop down the order to fill Taylor's spot at No 4 so Fulton can open with Martin Guptill.

"It's a big part of our preparation really with such a short turnaround,'' Hesson said of three-day game.

"The test guys have been here for three days now so we are getting them out in the middle and getting them used to the red ball again and basically just using these next three days to prepare for Newlands.''

The wicket at Boland Park in Paarl is somewhat of an unknown quantity for Hesson's men.

"We know a little bit from what we've seen on video but you have pitches change over time,'' Hesson said.

"From what I understand it's the hottest part of the country, so 40-42 degrees. We are expecting three hot days and an hour's travel either way so they'll be three big days and you've got to make the most of the time you get out there.''