Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Trouble at t'mill

You'd think that the New Zealand cricket team would be a happy bunch at the moment, fresh from their excellent win over Sri Lanka. The reality, if media reports are to be believed is that things are far from happy; Stuff reports:

Ross Taylor is standing his ground as national captain amid an untenable relationship with coach Mike Hesson, leaving New Zealand Cricket boss David White to return to a king-sized mess today.
An announcement on the captaincy could happen as early as today on White's return, a day earlier than originally scheduled, from International Cricket Council business in Dubai.
Taylor remains a strong chance of being usurped by Brendon McCullum for this month's tour of South Africa, as is Hesson's wish, but a groundswell of public support for the incumbent has NZC facing another public relations disaster if McCullum is installed.
A poll on Stuff.co.nz, which has drawn more than 3000 votes, last night had Taylor as preferred captain with 52 per cent to McCullum's 26 per cent.
The key is Hesson and Taylor's relationship, which was virtually non-existent to begin with, and stretched to breaking point during the tour of Sri Lanka.
Fairfax Media understands Taylor was not only given the option of walking away from the captaincy before the 10-wicket defeat in the first test in Galle, but also told that Hesson would recommend a captaincy change on the team's return to New Zealand.
The skipper's man-of-the-match performance in the 167-run win in Colombo last week turned the situation on its head. The timing is awful.
Hesson remains chief selector, a power brought in by NZC's director of cricket John Buchanan last year when then-coach John Wright chose Taylor over McCullum as his skipper.
That was rubber stamped by chairman Chris Moller's NZC board, most of whom now preside over Taylor's potential sacking. 

Here's the Stuff poll from when we voted just a moment ago. With over 3700 votes cast, support for Taylor has firmed since the Stuff story was written:


We have mixed feelings on this whole debacle. It's fair to say that results so far under Ross Taylor's captaincy have been mixed. But captaincy is not a skill that is learned overnight. Stephen Fleming was a pretty average captain in his first couple of seasons in the role. With time, Fleming became one of New Zealand's best cricket captains ever.

There have been suggestions that the burden of captaincy has affected Ross Taylor's batting. His performances in the second test in Sri Lanka rather contradicted that, where he led from the front in a man-of-the-match performance.

But is Taylor's position tenable if a good chunk of the team does not support him? Can he continue to captain the side if the coach does not have confidence in him? Would we be better off with Brendon McCullum as captain? Or would making McCullum captain of the ODI and T20 sides allowing Taylor to specialise as test captain be an acceptable compromise?

We wouldn't want to be NZC CEO David White today. He is faced with a hugely important decision in terms of taking cricket in New Zealand forward; he either endorses the captain or the coach because he cannot endorse both.

There is one positive; Daniel Vettori's reported unavailability for the forthcoming tour of South Africa. We believe that many of the ills in the current set-up can be traced back to Vettori's reign as captain, and the control granted to him by former CEO Justin Vaughan where Vettori not only ran the team but selected it as well.

New Zealand cricket is far from healthy. This latest row will not help the healing process at all, at least in the short term. It will be fascinating to see which way David White's support goes.

6 comments:

James Stephenson said...

When John Wright left, I predicted things would get worse, before they got better.

Told.You (well maybe not you).So.

Nookin said...

Hesson needs a kick in the backside for trying to get Taylor to stand aside in the middle of a series. He gets another kick in the backside for threatening Taylor when he stood up to him.

You are right about Fleming. It took time. I also remember Fleming had the wood on Graeme Smith when he first toured as captain. Smith hasn't turned out so bad!

Maybe if McCullum earns a place on merit and then goes on to prove he has the nettle to lead and grit it out things could change. In the meantime, I'm a Taylor man.

If anyone is stirring in the changing room, then send them back to club cricket.

Edward the Confessor said...

Yeah, I'm with Taylor here. Hesson has got of to an appalling start both in terms of results and his man management off the pitch. If an inquiry needs to be held it should be into how the hell he got the job in the first place.

McCullum needs to focus on his batting. Given his recent lack of form his place in the side should be under threat.

Keeping Stock said...

No argument from me on that Edward. You have to wonder now if Hesson disclosed his close friendship with McCullum when he was interviewed. If he couldn't see that as a potential conflict of interest, he doesn't deserve the role.

Apart from one dropped catch Taylor was pretty well faultless in Colombo. If NZC strips him of the captaincy on the basis of his leadership in SL it would be a travesty.

pdm said...

It seems to me Taylor has been `white anted' by McCullums close relationship with Hesson. I wasn't in favour of Taylor getting the job initially but now see no reason why he should not continue.

If he has lost the support of the team, and it was hard to see any evidence of that in the Sri Lanka tests then there is only one option to take over - that is Kane Williamson who has more captaincy experience than either Taylor or McCullum and is about the same age as Fleming was when he was appointed Captain.

In this issue David White does not look like much of an improvement on Justin Vaughan.

Keeping Stock said...

Agreed pdm, and that's the most worrying thing. I expected things to improve under David White, but if what is alleged on One News tonight is true (or even half-true), I am bitterly disappointed. Taylor seems to have been given the pointy end of the stump.