Player power no good for Black Caps

16:00, Dec 06 2012

As the Black Caps lurch into another internal crisis like an angry drunk picking a fight on K Rd it raises a bigger question: how much power is too much power for one player?

In our cricketers' case, it seems one particularly influential player, Brendon McCullum, has formed a core of support around him which could jeopardise Ross Taylor's future as captain.

This is not the first time we've seen this, but the other codes have also served up a few examples where a team has wielded its collective power to let their coach excel, or expel them.

Rumours abound around the dismal season of the Warriors, in particular that the dressing room became numb to Bluey's rantings and stopped following the game plan in protest.

On the flip side, we've heard from Sir Graham Henry's latest book that he gave over more power to his players following their humiliating World Cup exit in 2007.

He believes this increased responsibility helped the All Blacks choose the correct tactics for the last 10 minutes of the 2011 final and ensured victory.

Mark Hammett's my way or the highway approach in the capital may not have suited the likes of Nonu or Weepu, but it reaped far better results for his men this season. And it seems the same top down approach from Jamie Joseph has also benefited his under-rated charges at the Highlanders.

One particular team that player power worked well for was the Australian cricket side of the early 2000s. By all accounts they were run by a tight group of battle-hardened superstars like Shane Warne, Ricky Ponting and Steve Waugh. Their coach at the time, John Buchanan, was essentially a glorified administrator, who simply ensured there were few distractions for his talented band of men.

The Black Caps, however, don't possess the same bevy of top performers.

Brendon McCullum and his comrades have either failed to live up to their hype or are still too young to reach their potential, yet they seem to wield the power to pick and choose captains, coaches and support staff.

What seems to be the problem is that there is so little depth in sports like cricket or league. Players know they are too precious to be jettisoned over a coach. On the other hand rugby players can't be so self-assured when there's a plethora of equally skilled replacements waiting in the wings.

It seems player power really only works when the powers of the players can fit into the extraordinary category. But in the ever-evolving worlds of Super Rugby and NRL, when salary caps and injuries decimate squads over a long season, a strong hand is needed by the off-field staff.

In case of the Black Caps, giving too much sway to a side that is constantly in rebuilding mode is like giving the keepers giving their keys to the monkeys at the zoo.


Auckland Now