A virtuoso performance by New Zealand in the Chappell-Hadlee Trophy would be handy for keeping the series relevant.

The success of Australia's Big Bash League has brought the Twenty20 cricket frenzy closer to home, and it seems inevitable the competition will strengthen. That makes it paramount the Black Caps get parity with Australia in the three 50-over contests starting Monday at Eden Park.

New Zealand flatlined last month, losing 3-0 in Sydney, Canberra and Melbourne, and Australian public interest was relatively low compared to the crowds and television ratings generated by the BBL.

New Zealand was not solely to blame - Pakistan also struggled to generate interest - but 68-run, 116-run and 117-run defeats diluted the series' impact.


New Zealand Cricket produced a political masterstroke with the revival of the contest in June 2015 as part of an agreement with Cricket Australia which included 10 tests and eight Chappell-Hadlee series over seven years. Pragmatism dominated the deal - NZC agreed to the inaugural day-night test - but there was still a player-driven element after New Zealand's compelling one-wicket victory in World Cup pool play at Eden Park.

"We make no apology for wanting a closer working relationship with Cricket Australia," NZC chief executive David White said at the time.

"Regular competition against one of the best sides in the world is healthy for the Black Caps, NZC and all the stakeholders in our game."

New Zealand went on to win the first multi-match rubber since 2009-10 when they beat Australia 2-1 last season.

However, the pre-Christmas trouncing, and the decision to morph one of those eight series into a T20 tri-series with England next summer, suggests CA's interest might be waning.

After this summer the Chappell-Hadlee series resumes in 2018-19 in New Zealand; takes a break in 2019-20, and returns in 2020-21 and 2021-22.

Before their recent defeats, New Zealand coach Mike Hesson had to defend the contest as some in Australia questioned its place in their schedule.

The three-ODI series punctuated Australia's home tests against South Africa and Pakistan, as they bounced between playing with red, pink and white balls within a month.

Hesson's summation was he'd rather retain the trophy than climb to number one in the ODI rankings.

The stage is set for the incumbent Black Caps to channel the Chappell-Hadlee forces of old and pit their 50-over CV against the world No.1s. The series once proved fertile ground to enhance the reputations of players like Shane Bond, Craig McMillan, Daniel Vettori and Brendon McCullum.

And who knows? Strong performances by the current crop could generate a Big Bash League contract next season.