As the details of what New Zealand Cricket's press release described as an "action-packed summer schedule" rolled forth, the country's test specialists and their captain Kane Williamson deserved sympathy.

The likes of BJ Watling, Neil Wagner, Jeet Raval and Henry Nicholls might be restricted to four chances to showcase their skills this home season - two against the West Indies in December and two against England in March-April.

Unless further bilateral fixtures can be arranged, those tests will be New Zealand's only action in the longest form for the 18 months between the rained out draw against South Africa at Hamilton in March and a proposed October 2018 tour to play Pakistan in the UAE.

The last time New Zealand played fewer than five tests in the southern hemisphere summer was 2006-07 before the World Cup.


At home it has become the norm to play more than four across the season, even if the first came in 1994-95.

NZC's decision to opt for limited overs matches is understandable in the current climate. They provide a better return on investment for the balance sheet. More revenue can be generated and less resource required across a few hours rather than up to five days. However, four tests compared to 13 ODIs and 10 T20s in 2017-18 seems an unbalanced diet.

The careers of Watling, Wagner, Raval and Nicholls might stagnate with reduced a number of days in white, but perhaps the most compassion should be reserved for Williamson.

The consistency and effectiveness of his test batting has reignited a love of the game for many. His feats have brought joy comparable to that generated by Sir Richard Hadlee's bowling or Martin Crowe's batting in their 1980s pomp.

Williamson averages 51.16 from 61 tests, the only New Zealand player to have an average over 50 beyond their 32nd match. As the world's third-ranked test batsman, he is rated alongside Australia's Steve Smith (No1), England's Joe Root (No2) and India's Virat Kohli (No5). Each captains his respective country.

Williamson treats the test game with reverence, yet faces so few chances to showcase his dominance between April 2017 and September 2018. His contemporary batting rivals, on the other hand, will get more opportunities. Australia are scheduled to play up to 13 tests during that period, India 18 and England 21.

Asking Williamson to sustain his test excellence on such limited rations seems an unfair proposition.