N Zealand backlash over cricket captaincy turmoil
WELLINGTON (AFP) –
There were calls for New Zealand cricket administrators to resign on Saturday over the sacking of top batsman Ross Taylor as captain, while new skipper Brendon McCullum denied any role in the dismissal.
Former captain Martin Crowe and New Zealand’s largest daily newspaper, The New Zealand Herald, asked those responsible for Taylor’s dismissal, and the way it was handled, to step aside.
“This week the game in New Zealand has been severely damaged. Permanently, I believe,” Crowe wrote on the cricinfo website. “Those directly accountable should go, simply as rightful punishment.”
In an editorial, the Herald described New Zealand Cricket (NZC) as a rudderless ship and said “Taylor has become the latest poster-child for the high-performance dysfunction in our national summer game.
“As a board that has involved itself heavily in operational matters, they must… call an extraordinary general meeting and resign.”
McCullum’s promotion on Friday, ahead of the Black Caps’ upcoming tour of South Africa, ended months of speculation about Taylor’s future since ex-Kenya coach Mike Hesson took over the reins of the New Zealand team in July.
Despite presiding over a string of poor results, Taylor remains New Zealand’s best batsman, averaging 43.45, and his absence from the Test squad for South Africa further weakens a side missing injured spinner Dan Vettori.
Hesson, a long-time associate of McCullum, never publicly endorsed Taylor as captain and referred to him as being a board appointment.
“His fate was sealed when Mike Hesson stepped into the head coach role. We waited for Taylor’s execution day,” former New Zealand fast bowler Jonathan Millmow said in The Press newspaper.
Hesson defended his treatment of Taylor over the captaincy, saying “there’s no good time to deliver news like that” but conceded “it’s been a very unfortunate week… and not the result anyone wanted”.
McCullum said any suggestion that he was involved in a coup, and of a rift between himself and Taylor, was untrue.
“It cuts right to the bone, that people would question your integrity and your character like that,” he said.
“I had absolutely no involvement in that recommendation whatsoever. I was asked if I would lead the one-day and Twenty20 team two days ago, and yesterday I was asked if I’d lead the Test team after Ross turned it down.”
Taylor, who immediately made himself unavailable for the South Africa tour, rejected Hesson’s claim that he was still wanted as Test captain.
He said he was initially told before the first Test against Sri Lanka in Galle last month that he was not wanted as captain at all.
“They told me I wasn’t good enough as a captain, wasn’t good enough for this team,” Taylor told The New Zealand Herald. “To hear I wasn’t good enough was disappointing. It was interesting.”
“I was offered the Test captaincy a couple of weeks (after the Sri Lanka meeting), when it was clear to me from conversations, they didn’t want me at all.
“It wasn’t a huge shock. Hesson never supported me through the whole time I’d been captain, but I was surprised by the timing.”