Long time readers of Red Alert, and indeed Public Address, will know that cricket, and particularly the New Zealand cricket team mean a lot to me. Along with other NZ Cricket supporters I have had a lifetime of hope and dashed hope, dealing with heroic failure and abject failure, and celebrating the odd (actually there were lots in the 80s) moment of success. But always there for the lads.
So, for non cricketing folk you might wonder about the outpouring of emotion from cricket fans over the three part tragedy played out by New Zealand Cricket this week in partly sacking Ross Taylor, then fully sacking him and then appointing Brendon McCullum as Captain. Well, let’s just say there are many years of emotion attached to it. Actually I think New Zealand Cricket fans are the closest we get to the deep emotion of English football fans. The true fans, the ones who stick it out through wins and losses, feel this omnishambles deeply.
What happened? Well, here is my take. From my standpoint, Ross Taylor probably shouldn’t have been appointed captain in the first place. He was picked to be a “lead from the front” “do as I do, not as I say” kind of captain. In the wake of an unsettled period (Andy Moles, awkward Fleming/Vettori transition, John Wright debacle), and with questions hanging over the ability of a number of the team to cut it at international level, that might not have been wise.
But he was given the job. So, what was done to help him? Was Taylor given the support/training etc that he clearly needed if he was going to turn into a good test captain? Was he willing to accept that kind of support? It will be hard to know what has happened, but just as in politics the spin is now coming from both sides of the argument.
For my ten cents worth, Brendon McCullum is the obvious captain for the shorter forms of the game. Not because he is a fellow Kings High School old boy or because he is the world’s best 20/20 batsman, but because the games require more of the instinctive, gambler personality type that McCullum exhibits. For the test team I am not so sure. I think he could grow into that role, but I would have been happy to see Taylor do it for a while and see whether he could develop a bit more.
Other countries have different skippers for different formats. The difference there is the test captain is often not involved in the shorter form of the game so there is no sense of “confusion” with them on the team. Honestly, though, that must be able to be managed, if you have the will and wit to do so.
Speaking of a lack of wit, that brings us to NZ Cricket. The way NZ Cricket has handled this situation, and others over recent years shows an administration that is deeply flawed, and is bringing the game they are charged with looking after into disrepute. Everyone involved has been treated badly, and some will struggle to make the positive impact on the game that they should.
Ross Taylor is talking about being back for the England series. I hope he will be. But I will bet now that his international career will be shortened as a result of this farce, and that is something we will all end up regretting.
For Brendon McCullum he enters a hugely difficult period as captain. South Africa without your best batsman and with your team feeling demoralised. And then he will return to New Zealand and Taylor will be treated like a folk hero during the English series. The only thing that will give McCullum a break will be some good results. Here’s hoping, and in the meantime, I know I will be supporting the lads, as I always have. They need us now more than ever.