The selection structure at New Zealand Cricket is changing. To keep pace with other test playing nations an extra focus is being placed on talent identification around the country as well as at youth levels. A new full-time role is being created to be in charge of all aspects of selection, with selecting the national side just a part of that.
The casualty of this is Bruce Edgar, and the outpouring of misplaced angst has been quite extraordinary. This is not a complete disaster as some a claiming; merely a change in focus by an organisation attempting to become more professional.
And so much of this outcry has been sentimental and emotional, without any apparent attempt to look at the wider picture, instead focusing on things like Edgar having to sit at the World Cup final close to Australian wives and girlfriends.
There is no doubt that Edgar related to the top team well, and was liked by the players. He is an articulate man, and spent a lot of time communicating with the test and ODI sides. That is why he was offered the additional, but reduced role of national selector only. Probably at a higher hourly rate that any other role at New Zealand cricket.
However, there is no actual evidence that he provided any real value in the wider talent identification aspect of his role. To do that properly you need to know who the third best left arm spinner in the country, the second best keeper standing up etc
A lot of the focus seems to be around where he sat at New Zealand matches during this year’s Cricket World Cup, and this in itself shows where Edgar’s focus was in his role. This seems to have been dramatically overplayed. A tournament like a World Cup is treated like an overseas tour; once it started match selections are left to the coach and captain. It has been this way for decades. Still he attended every single match New Zealand played.
Meanwhile, the Plunket Shield was in full swing, and there were squads to be selected to tour England in the middle of the year. That is where the focus should have been.
Professional cricket, like most sports, is vastly different from how it was run thirty years ago. For example, it is a lot more difficult for a player to pull out of a tour, to the West Indies for example, and expect to be selected for the next tour.
Finally, to address the hysterical aspect to the coverage; Edgar was not forced to sit with Australians in the World Cup Final. He was given the opportunity to sit in an official ICC area, which included ICC Board members, sponsors, and the families of both teams competing. But let’s not let facts get in the way of a good anti-Aussie paranoia.