Coach Mike Hesson has described New Zealand’s southern Africa tour as a developmental success as he eyes a hectic Australasian summer.
The under-strength Black Caps ended their five-week tour on a low with a game-three eight-wicket loss to South Africa in Durban to cede the one-day international series and drop to fourth in the world rankings.
The players will take a break or join their first-class associations ahead of the three-Test tour of Australia starting in October.
That tour is followed by home series against Sri Lanka, Pakistan and Australia in a packed summer.
“Australia sitting on the horizon has been exciting and I think the players have been thinking about it for a long time,” Hesson said.
“We’ve got to prepare as well as we can, including the pink ball situation.”
The trans-Tasman rivals will make history in Adelaide from November 27 when they play the first day-night Test using a pink ball.
In Africa, New Zealand were competitive in the first two ODIs and Twenty20 matches in South Africa and won three of four limited overs matches in Zimbabwe, prompting a clear pass mark from Hesson.
His team missed regular captain Brendon McCullum for the entirety, along with world class seam pair Trent Boult and Tim Southee and allrounders Corey Anderson and Mitchell Santner.
Injuries to batsman Ross Taylor and allrounder Jimmy Neesham cut their tours short, casting the international spotlight on a number of unproven players under the leadership of interim skipper Kane Williamson.
“Overall I’m delighted with the tour in terms of what we wanted to achieve,” Hesson said.
“Sure it’s a disappointing way to finish but it certainly doesn’t take the gloss off. We have unleashed a number of new players and few others have come back into the fold as well.”
Seam bowler Adam Milne was singled out for praise, returning from a lengthy sideline stint to bowl with speed and aggression.
Proven Test bowler Doug Bracewell also proved his worth in the shortened form, Hesson said, while legspinner Ish Sodhi and batsman George Worker impressed on debut at ODI level.
The batting standout, aside from prolific pair Williamson and Martin Guptill, was opener Tom Latham, who scored three half-centuries in the South African ODI series and unbeaten century against Zimbabwe.
“He and Martin at the top were outstanding in both one-day series. Tom scored at a good rate playing good quality cricket shots and for him to take (opportunities) adds to our depth nicely.”