Editorial: Cricket in New Zealand is at crisis point
New Zealand Cricket has a talent for mimicry. Sadly it has chosen the wrong body to mimic. Instead of modelling itself on South Africa, India or another cricketing powerhouse, it has chosen the Labour Party. For David Shearer read Ross Taylor; for David Cunliffe read Brendon McCullum, the defeated contender in a two-horse race for the captaincy last year.
Hence while other countries finetune their batting and bowling, New Zealand's cricketers and administrators have been intriguing over an inconsequential matter - who should captain the sinking ship.
In case they haven't noticed, it should be pointed out that the standing of the game in this country is at its lowest ebb since England dismissed New Zealand for 26 runs at Eden Park in 1955 - still the lowest score in test history.
And it is not just the standing of the sport within New Zealand that is at a low ebb. It is the standing of New Zealand cricket overseas. The programming of the tour to Sri Lanka in the midst of the rainy season shows where the Black Caps stand - just above cricketing minnow Zimbabwe.
Not only are Kiwis not interested in paying to watch over-paid, under-performing journeymen, neither is the rest of the cricketing world.
That the one player who has performed consistently in recent times should have become the subject of an insidious whispering campaign in such circumstances beggars belief. Apparently some of Ross Taylor's team-mates find him aloof, do not like the way he talks to them and think McCullum has a better cricket brain.
Well, whoop-de-do. McCullum's failure to convert his talent into runs is not a consequence of Taylor's tactical failings. Nor can Taylor be blamed for the inability of the rest of his team-mates to consistently score runs or take wickets.
It might have escaped the Black Caps' notice, but while McCullum has been finding ways to get out, Taylor has been been piling up the runs.
This year he has scored 819 runs, including three centuries at an average of 54.96. Over the same period the pretender to his throne scored 621 runs with no centuries at an average of 34.5.
As a wicketkeeper/batsman McCullum was among the best practitioners of his trade. As a batsman alone, the capacity in which he now plays, he is distinctly average.
Taylor's decision to take a break from the game after the public humiliation he has suffered is understandable, but it leaves the Black Caps without their best player for the demanding tour to South Africa.
Cricket in New Zealand has reached a crisis point. No one wants to play the Black Caps; very few want to watch them. Soon young kids will give up trying to emulate them.
For the moment the sport is being kept afloat by international television revenues. But it is only a matter of time before the international cricketing community notices New Zealand is not pulling its weight.
The Black Caps are not worth the price of admission. That is the issue that should be consuming the sport, not a meaningless squabble over who wears the captain's armband.
The Dominion Post