To those who read regularly, I apologise in advance for not honouring my word: I’m not doing the new monthly feature on my cult heroes. I will get to that before Christmas for certain (I do have twenty two more days to write the article) and if I do not, you may slap me with a wet plimsoll.
This week I want to focus on New Zealand cricket. Again.
If you have any interest in cricket (and are not Ukrainian) then I assume you’re aware that Ross Taylor has been disposed of as New Zealand skipper.
The plot is as such: Mike Hesson sat Taylor down a few days before the first Test of their Sri Lankan tour and told him that he was going to recommend there be changes in the captaincy on the team’s return to New Zealand. Ross Taylor (who was captain in all three formats) was led to believe he was to be replaced in tests, ODIs and T20s. Hesson has stated since that he intended to have Taylor stay on as Test captain and have Brendan McCullum take on the ODI and T20 roles. He failed in making this clear to Ross Taylor, who on the return Down Under this week, rejected the proposal and ruled out any inclusion on his part in the South Africa tour later this month. Hesson and the New Zealand Cricket board found themselves forced to hand McCullum the reins for each format.
What is immediately infuriating is Mike Hesson’s cack handed timing. To completely undermine the captain days before a major tour is one thing, but to do so in a vague and obtuse manner makes matters far worse. The lack of communication is astounding. The mind boggles when one realises Taylor’s heroics in the historic second Test victory which drew them level in the series, was achieved among the poisonous atmosphere he found himself in; apparently completely alienated from most of his teammates (Martin Guptill aside, and as such, we here now adore him) and lumped with a coach who openly had no confidence in his leadership abilities. His twin innings of 142 and 74 made on a turning track (the kind of surface the Kiwis have struggled on all year long) surely rank as one of the finest batting performances of the year, and maybe even ever for a Black Cap batsman.
It has not been a vintage year for New Zealand cricket, the win in Sri Lanka only halted them from equalling their worst ever run in Test cricket and many were sorely disappointed with the Super Eights knockout in the T20 World Cup. It is important to put these results in context though: two extra runs would have seen them into the semi-finals of that competition and they pushed the South Africans, in stretches, earlier this year, finishing the three Test series against the best team in Test cricket with a kinder score line than the English managed (0-1 vs. 0-2 on their respective home soil). The tours to India and the West Indies were failures but bookending the last twelve months are two of the finest victories in New Zealand cricket history.
Hobart and Colombo displayed the potential of this team; these wins were achieved in no small part due to the positive captaincy of Taylor, who kept the pressure on in both matches, winning them both deservedly. Ross Taylor has been treated with a severe lack of respect and internal problems this year has seen the Kiwis lose one of the best coaches going around (John Wright) and a promising skipper in his playing prime. Indeed, such a public spat must surely make Taylor consider the nature of his involvement in New Zealand cricket. The best batsman in the country and at his batting peak, he would have no problem taking the Chris Gayle route, traversing the world taking wads of twenty20 cash for his considerable talent. New Zealand cannot afford to prevent their players taking this route regardless of demeaning back room treachery and creating these problems will only see them continue to decline. With the Jesse Ryder issue on-going, one only hopes for Taylor’s sake, New Zealand’s sake and every cricket fan’s sake that some resolution is reached and Taylor is back at number 4 for the England series in March.
Whispers have circulated that Hesson always preferred McCullum to Taylor because of the closeness of their relationship in domestic cricket for Otago (must I reconsider my support for Otago in the Plunkett Shield now? No, Neil Wagner plays there and Dunedin is my future home if ever I have one). McCullum has vehemently denied any such Machiavellian plotting on his part but Hesson has proven to be rather devious in this whole debacle and can’t quite so simply be labelled as blameless.
We shall keep him locked up firmly and add his name to the shit list.
Martin Crowe, something of a mentor to Ross Taylor and arguably New Zealand’s greatest batsman, resigned from his role as a talent spotter in the immediate aftermath (despite the extra special, freshly stitched scouting cap only having just arrived in the post for him) and decried the state of New Zealand cricket’s administration. You can read that here:
God bless the man for his continuing love and passion for the game despite his battle with cancer.
Meanwhile the South Africa tour is imminent and they shall depart without their best batsman and another very important man.
Daniel Vettori has had a troubling twelve months, missing the majority of games through injury and not bowling his best when on the field. He seems to be in terminal decline as his body finally breaks down after 15 years of non-stop service for cricket in his country. I wonder if the backstabbing and the bullshit would have happened with Dan in the team… Somehow I think not, he is a serious player and led his country admirably; he very clearly knows how to manage men. One wishes that there were more people like him involved with New Zealand cricket. I’m sure we’ve yet to see the last of him yet. Christ I hope not.
It has been a traumatising week for cricket as it found itself embroiled in yet another player-board power struggle. Regrettably, cricket is always the loser and the potential of a fascinating series between South Africa and the Kiwis is even less likely now. If you want to keep up with New Zealand cricket, check out this appropriately titled thread:
I am leaving Sheffield for home next week. I cannot wait. I have clung on and clung on for one hundred years. Ye God! The train tracks itch my feet at all hours. Next week I shall talk a little bit about the England – India series and perhaps Sri Lanka – Australia also.
ENGLAND HAVE SHUT ME THE F UP.
Goodbye, I love you…..
Goodbye, I love you…..
Goodbye, I love you…..
‘If in thine my life thou waste,
Thou art the best of me.’