Cricket-NZ coach Hesson extends contract until 2019

WELLINGTON, May 26 (Reuters) - Mike Hesson has been rewarded for his successful reign as New Zealand coach with a contract extension that takes him through until after the 2019 World Cup in England. Since taking over as coach in 2012, Hesson has overseen a marked improvement in New Zealand's standing in international cricket and they are now ranked number one in Twenty20, second in one-day internationals and fifth in tests. "Mike's the most successful coach in New Zealand cricket history and, in my opinion, the best selector we've ever had," New Zealand Cricket chief executive David White said in a statement. "To have him committed to the (team) until after the next World Cup is great news for all concerned." Team manager Mike Sandle, batting coach Craig McMillan and strength and conditioning coach Chris Donaldson have also extended their contracts. "This is very positive in terms of our succession planning, our preparation for the major events on the horizon and, not least, general team stability," White said. "It was really important for us to retain the intellectual property and institutional knowledge that these people have developed." New Zealand reached the final of the 50-overs World Cup last year and the semi-finals of the World Twenty20 in March, having gone unbeaten in seven test series home and away from 2013 until 2015. While the majority of the side remain intact, top order batsman Kane Williamson has succeeded the retired Brendon McCullum as captain for all three formats of the game. "It's a privilege to be a part of the Black Caps culture and I feel lucky to be able to contribute to that for a little bit longer," Hesson said. "We have a new leader in Kane which will bring some changes and that's something to be excited by too. "Kane has his own style and philosophy, but its also important that he has the support which allows him and the team to thrive. "Being around a group which works together and is striving to head in the same direction is extremely rewarding." New Zealand's next international assignment is their tour of southern Africa in July and August, where they will play two tests each against Zimbabwe and South Africa. (Reporting by Greg Stutchbury, editing by Nick Mulvenney)