Black Caps need Ross Taylor in South Africa

Don't usually blog about sport. Too much like keeping to my day job (a piece of advice I'm often offered on this page). Ah yes, "stick to sport, you mug" - have heard a bit of that over the past year or so. You wags. Anyway, good; let's talk about sport for a change. Specifically, Ross Taylor's decision to withdraw from the New Zealand team's tour of South Africa as a protest against losing the ODI and T20 captaincy. Here's what I'd like to say to him.

Dear Ross,

This is a plea to reconsider your stance over the South African tour. You need to be there; the team needs you to be there, and New Zealand cricket supporters need you to be there. Doubtless, it must be hard to take; being so publicly wounded; to have to swallow your pride so openly, to be told about doubts over your captaincy. NZC were right to apologise to you and your family for the way it handled the issue. You were badly wronged.

Still, sometimes things aren't quite as bad as they seem. You were offered the test captaincy. That's hardly a consolation prize. It's the second biggest job in New Zealand sport, next to that filled by Richie McCaw. It's a role that brings to life the history of New Zealand cricket, from Walter Hadlee to John Reid; and characters such as Congdon, Coney, Howarth and Fleming. To walk with such company should be a great honour.

Go back to NZC and work out a compromise. Join the touring squad late, but in time for the tests. Everyone would admire your courage for that. You're not the first tremendously good cricketer to be relieved of the captaincy (or part thereof). New Zealand's greatest batsman, Bert Sutcliffe, experienced the same fate. As did the great England all-rounder Ian Botham. Forced to resign as skipper, he engineered an amazing triumph in his next outing.

Funny thing about Botham. He admitted later in an autobiography that many of the mistakes he made were due to poor advisors. Maybe you need to look at that. Seems like you're an emotional man; you've surrounded yourself with some emotional people, and you've made an emotional decision. Good advisors might not always tell you what you want to hear, but they know how to work towards achieving positive and constructive outcomes.

This? This is a worst case scenario. The bulk of it of NZC's making; certainly, but partly of your own. What's the worst thing that could have happened to you? I would have thought losing the captaincy in all three forms and pulling out of international cricket in anger would go pretty close. You had a choice. Yes, you were treated shabbily but you still had a choice: to be a test captain, no less. Whoever you're listening to has given you a bum steer.

It's still not too late. NZC would move heaven and earth to accommodate you, I'm sure. And at least then there wouldn't be this ambiguity over your self-imposed exile. I mean, it's ironic isn't it? Brendon McCullum didn't go on strike when he was sacked as vice captain to Daniel Vettori, or later, when you were preferred for the role. And yet, first time he's fully installed as skipper you withdraw your services? You don't want people reading that the wrong way.

So, you might not see eye- to-eye with the coach. That's life in professional sport. Shane Warne wasn't exactly best mates with John Buchanan, either. Called him a "dickhead" at one stage. The important  bit is, he didn't let that get in the way of doing what he did best - playing cricket. Neither should you. You're a wonderful cricketer, a fabulous batsman and the test arena is your stage. Don't let the wreckers keep you off it.

» Read more of Richard Boock in the Sunday Star Times.
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