Long-Suffering New Zealand Fans Suffer a Little More ; Turmoil over Captain Just One of Many Chaotic Events Plaguing Team

By Stoney, Emma | International Herald Tribune, January 31, 2013 | Go to article overview

Long-Suffering New Zealand Fans Suffer a Little More ; Turmoil over Captain Just One of Many Chaotic Events Plaguing Team


Stoney, Emma, International Herald Tribune


A year ago, it looked like things might be turning around for New Zealand's national team. Then the chaos returned.

Just over 12 months ago, long-suffering New Zealand cricket fans had hopes that their national team might be on the verge of finally turning things around.

A rare test victory in Australia was sandwiched by triumphs over lowly Zimbabwe, and there was a new sense of confidence in a team captained by Ross Taylor.

And then the chaos returned. New Zealand endured another turbulent year as its coaching merry-go-round continued and Taylor was controversially dismissed as captain.

Since 2008, when John Bracewell quit as national coach to take up a role at the English county team Gloucestershire, New Zealand has seen Andy Moles, Mark Greatbatch and John Wright come and go as head coaches.

Moles lasted less than a year after losing the confidence and respect of influential senior players. Greatbatch was basically a fill-in until Wright was appointed in 2010. Wright, who enjoyed success as the coach of India, left in July last year after turning down a contract extension because he felt he was unable to continue working with New Zealand Cricket's director of coaching, John Buchanan.

Mike Hesson, who currently holds the head job, is in the early stages of his tenure, but he has already been embroiled in controversy following his poor handling of the Taylor affair, which resulted in New Zealand's most consistent batsman making himself unavailable for the recent tour of South Africa. New Zealand was bowled out for 45 in the first innings of the first test in Cape Town after its new captain, Brendon McCullum, chose to bat first on a bowlers' pitch. The Black Caps followed that up by being reduced to 47 for six in the first innings of the second test, and that simply added fuel to the fire of discontent among New Zealand cricket fans and its former players.

Many believe Hesson is not experienced enough to be coaching New Zealand and that Taylor should never have been stripped of the captaincy.

"I really despair at the moment at the lack of guidance that's got us to where we've got to, and the lack of understanding of what competing on the world scene is all about," said John Morrison, a former New Zealand cricketer who played 17 tests and 18 one-day internationals between 1973 and 1983.

"They are up against the best pace attack in the world, but the stats don't lie," he said. "Getting out for 45 and being 47-6 is unacceptable because we're now teetering on the brink of really being the easy-beats of the international world."

New Zealand will always be first and foremost about rugby, but cricket has been played for more than a century here and is the main summer sport. In 1930, it became the fifth country to play a test, but it had to wait a while longer to celebrate its first victory, in 1956.

Test success has been sporadic since, but in the one-day game, New Zealand has reached the semifinals of the World Cup in 2007 and 2011, made the final of the Champions Trophy in 2009 and reached No. 2 in the world rankings.

Currently, it is ranked eighth in all three forms of the game, just above Bangladesh and Zimbabwe.

"When you get to that point, your bargaining power diminishes because the major forces in cricket like England, India, Australia and South Africa don't want to play us because the TV networks don't want us, the crowds don't want us, the sponsors don't want us," Morrison said. …

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