Grab the big moments; if New Zealand are to have any chance of breaking their Under-19 World Cup duck over the coming weeks that's one of the key factors, according to coach Paul Wiseman.

New Zealand have made only one final in the 11 editions of the tournament which is the major springboard to international cricket for the brightest talent in the game. That was in 1998 when a team which included the likes of James and Hamish Marshall, Kyle Mills, James Franklin and Lou Vincent were beaten by England in the final in Johannesburg.

So much of a team's chances of success lie in luck. Are they in a strong or flatter period of up-and-coming players? How well do they cope with entirely foreign conditions? Can they recognise the important periods and seize them.

"Our strength lies in playing as a team. We've got a number of guys who are multi-skilled which is great, and it's going to come down to winning important moments," former international offspinner Wiseman said. "We've got some pretty smart guys with good skills so hopefully when they come along they can stand up and win them."


New Zealand's preparation hasn't been as deep and varied as some other teams. For example, Zimbabwe have had 18 months together, according to Wiseman, in which time they have played home and away series against South Africa, toured India and Australia and been to New Zealand.

New Zealand have had four warmup matches, amid two rain-ruined games, beating Zimbabwe three times and losing to Pakistan once.

Wiseman played down any thought of a significant home advantage to be gleaned out of the playing conditions in New Zealand. Games are spread around the country, from Queenstown to Whangarei, with Mt Maunganui's Bay Oval to host two of New Zealand's three pool games and the final on February 3.

"There's probably a bit more bounce than some of the sub-continental teams are used to. That may be an advantage for us but it just comes down to who adapts on the day on the surface and against that opposition."

New Zealand have seen footage of pool opponents the West Indies, the defending champions whom they face in their opener today at the Mount, and South Africa, but none of Kenya.

"They look steady, and we expect them both to be strong so we're preparing for a couple of very good sides," Wiseman said of the two test-playing nations.

New Zealand will be led by Taranaki batsman Kaylum Boshier, no stranger to leadership roles in rugby and cricket, and whose brother Lachlan plays Super Rugby for the Chiefs.

"He's a pretty calm character. He doesn't say a great deal but when he does people listen. He leads from the front and they're pretty good characteristics for a captain in my mind."

Four players, Auckland's Finn Allen and Dale Phillips, Wellington's Rachin Ravindra and Central Districts' Felix Murray, were in the 2016 team. There are four provincial Under-19 captains in the squad. Wiseman likes the depth of leadership quality in the group.

He's also sure several will kick on to either play for New Zealand at senior level, or come very close. So much comes down to development — and not just in cricket — wherein some players mature earlier than others, some press on and others plateau early.

Wiseman pointed out that in the 2010 team, led by national skipper Kane Williamson and which included Tim Southee, Corey Anderson, Trent Boult, George Worker, Hamish Rutherford and prominent first-class players like Michael Bracewell and Anurag Verma, several players who missed selection went on to play for New Zealand. He estimates 75-80 per cent of players go onto first-class cricket; what happens after that is anyone's guess.

"That was a freakish cycle," Wiseman said.

"The great thing about the kids here is they've got pretty good character traits, work hard and want to learn and have some ability to back them up."

Under-19 World Cup in NZNew Zealand squad:
Kaylum Boshier (c), Todd Watson, Felix Murray (all Central Districts), Finn Allen, Dale Phillips, Sandeep Patel (Auckland), Rachin Ravindra, Luke Georgeson, Jakob Bhula, Callum McLachlan (Wellington), Connor Sullivan (Canterbury), Ben Lockrose, Max Chu (Otago), Katene Clarke, Matthew Fisher (Northern Districts).

Pool A: New Zealand, West Indies, South Africa, Kenya
Pool B: Papua New Guinea, Australia, India, Zimbabwe
Pool C: Bangladesh, England, Canada, Namibia.
Pool D: Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Ireland, Afghanistan.

Opening day games today :
New Zealand v West Indies, Mt Maunganui; Pakistan v Afghanistan, Whangarei; Bangladesh v Namibia, Lincoln; Zimbabwe v Papua New Guinea, Lincoln.David Leggat