A good plot needs a full-on villain and the gallant victim battling against the odds. And didn’t New Zealand Cricket deliver on that with the bumbling shuffling of the deckchairs in the captaincy on the decks of the national side?
There is that evil Joe 90 clone Mike Hesson sticking it to Ross Taylor in order to promote his man Brendon McCullum to the top job. Who is Hesson anyway, why is he so short, and what’s with the glasses?
Then there’s Ross Taylor; the ultimate Kiwi battler. Quiet, strong and stamping his authority via performance on the field. Almost like the old-fashioned All Black leader.
There is no question that this incident was handled appallingly by those in power at NZCricket. Hesson’s decision to bring up the subject of a captaincy transfer four days before a test series was at best extremely misguided.
And then there was the confusion about what was actually said, the failure of David White to go public, and the inability to plug the leaks.
A week after a remarkable test victory and NZ Cricket was owning the negative stories department on the TV News.
This column is not about justifying what was done; but, seriously there has been a lot of rubbish spouted about this.
First of all; there is no rule, precedent or logic in saying that a side’s best batsman should be the skipper in order to lead from the front. Brian Lara and Sachin Tendulkar being two pretty obvious examples from recent times to emphasise that.
Hesson was appointed manager of this lot six months ago. In the ultimate professional sporting arena, European football, the first thing the newly appointed manager does is to appoint his man in charge. Ross Taylor is clearly a good guy but that’s the reality of it.
And Hesson haters; the good news is that he’s made his bed now.
Quite how Brendon McCullum became such a figure of hate during the whole drama remains a mystery. Some people called for him to come out in support of Taylor during the week. Ironically this was from the same people who go on about inflated player power wanting a player to try and upend a management process. You cannot have a senior player over-ruling a coach’s decision.
On the subject of process. There was also the talk that the board; possibly even Moeller, should need to approve a recommendation from the coach about a change in the captaincy of the national side.
There is one country in the cricketing world that does that. And how we love to discredit Pakistan and all their politics.
Another argument used against the action was there are bigger issues around NZ cricket. This is probably true, but is a completely illogical argument. Nothing would ever get done if you take that approach to its logical conclusion.
As for Ross Taylor. Clearly this was handled badly, and now we know the context of the conversation in Galle, the match winning knocks in the second test in Sri Lanka should be held up as a show of bravery in adversity not unlike Ellis Park Boxing Day 1953.
But still, it does seem a shame he refused to take on the option of retaining the test captaincy. And even sadder was the notion from respected analysts that this offer was seen as a pacifier.
Test captain for New Zealand = a pacifier? Bigger issues at stake obviously.
Imagine a scenario where an Australia would turn down test captaincy, and made himself unavailable for that side because he was no longer the shorter forms captain. He would never wear the Baggy Green again.
In a utopian scenario (suspend belief for a minute) Taylor would be in South Africa in the New Year as captain.
Reliving the memories of Ian Botham in 1981; except he would still be the captain. In 1981 Botham was stripped of captaincy when his side was 0-1 down against the Old Foe. Almost single-handedly he turned it all around, and delivered arguably the most famous cricket series of all time.
Ross Taylor; you have the chance to score the most runs and notch the most centuries by a NZer ever. You have had it tough, but hopefully you, as a cricket historian, will know what Botham (and Lara and Tendulkar) did, and rise above this. And your team needs you.
You have turned down a test captaincy role. That’s a huge call. Try to focus on the right things, and be selective about the advice you’re getting. Burning blazers, whether real or metaphorical, doesn’t achieve anything. Next it will be bridges.
For the hard copy version of this, apart from the burning blazers bit, check out this week’s NZ Truth