Napier: Zimbabwe gets set to host New Zealand in a one-off Test match and while eyes may be on matches with higher profiles in Abhu Dhabi and Adelaide, Napier will provide the testing ground for character of both teams.
Two higher profile series leaves this one-off Test to play out in the shadows but it promises to be a test of character for both sides. New Zealand and Zimbabwe played one of the Tests of the year in 2010, in Bulawayo, which ended in a thrilling 34-run win for the visitors. Zimbabwe have not played any Test cricket since then and will still be buoyed by how close they came but New Zealand have a bigger cloud to float on - victory over Australia in Hobart.
The Zimbabwe tour is a curtain raiser to South Africa's arrival in New Zealand later in the summer and the hosts will want to use what is effectively a warm-up tour to fine-tune their plans. They have question marks over who the best wicketkeeper in the country is, how many allrounders to play and which of their four quick bowlers will edge ahead if they have to pick between them. One Test may not be enough to clarify all of these issues but it will go some way to guiding New Zealand for the immediate future.