West Indies tour over, now for the World Cup

CHOICES TO MAKE: Black Caps coach Mike Hesson.
CHOICES TO MAKE: Black Caps coach Mike Hesson.

Now for the payroll, and World Cup plotting.

New Zealand Cricket's 20 contracted players will be revealed this week as the Black Caps return to Auckland on Thursday from a successful West Indies tour, highlighted by a 2-1 test series win.

As coach and chief selector Mike Hesson inks in his key men for the next year, and ranks them 1-20, the team disbands till late October when it hosts South Africa at Mt Maunganui, the first of 17 one-day internationals leading in to February's World Cup.

Some will scatter around the globe. Ross Taylor and Jimmy Neesham remain for the Caribbean Premier League, starting on Saturday, where they will be joined by compatriots Martin Guptill and Daniel Vettori. Corey Anderson was denied permission by NZC to play the CPL, due to concerns over his workload, which opened the door for fellow allrounder Neesham to be snapped up by Guyana Amazon Warriors.

Kane Williamson, who led New Zealand in yesterday's 39-run Twenty20 loss in Dominica for "future captaincy planning", has an interesting month ahead. He will return to his English county Yorkshire and must have his bowling arm tested at Loughborough University by the end of this week, after he was reported for a suspect action on June 22.

Williamson will either be cleared, or found to be over the allowed 15 degrees of flex and banned from bowling until he does remedial work. The offspinner plays key cameo roles with the ball in both tests and ODIs, so Hesson will be sweating on him being cleared.

Player of the series in the tests, Williamson was handed the captaincy to ensure New Zealand have a plan B if Brendon McCullum is sidelined. Williamson, 24 next month, will get other chances to captain the ODI side in the next seven months, with McCullum likely to be rested for short periods amid a heavy cup buildup.

"If we get to the World Cup and we have an incident we need to make sure that Kane's up to speed. It was an opportunity for us in a less pressure situation, but a big crowd and a big atmosphere. He'll learn a lot from it," Hesson said.

A low-key T20 double-header offered minimal morsels for Hesson.

Test kingpin Trent Boult confirmed himself as an effective white ball bowler and World Cup contender, and produced another outfield catch for the highlight reels.

The Neesham-as-opener experiment wasn't an instant success, with two single figure scores when he chopped a low full toss to backward point yesterday.

In Jesse Ryder's absence for disciplinary reasons, finding an ODI opener to partner Guptill is one task for Hesson and fellow selector Bruce Edgar. Neesham will get more chances in 50-over cricket, while Tom Latham, Hamish Rutherford and Anton Devcich are all on trial for New Zealand A in nine one-dayers in England starting later this month. After his test success, Latham is a worthy option if Neesham doesn't come off.

Yesterday the Black Caps ended on a flat note to share the T20 series 1-1 in Dominica.

They lost their last eight wickets for 44 after topscorer Williamson (37) departed, to be dismissed for 126 on a sluggish surface.

"You don't want to finish on a loss but overall it's been a great tour for us. We came over here a couple of years ago and got turned over. The fact we won a test series away from home is a big achievement," Hesson said.

The Dominion Post