NZC draws a line, and we're none the wiser

MATCHED: South Africa's Robin Peterson during a nets session in Sahara Park Kingsmead, Durban, yesterday. The T20 series is tipped to be evenly contested.
MATCHED: South Africa's Robin Peterson during a nets session in Sahara Park Kingsmead, Durban, yesterday. The T20 series is tipped to be evenly contested.

Over to you, Brendon McCullum.

On a day when New Zealand Cricket released another vague, uninformative statement instructing us all to "draw a line" under the Ross Taylor captaincy debacle, without providing additional information, a game of international cricket threatens to break out in South Africa.

And not a moment too soon for NZC amid their dark December.

"NZC has reached the conclusion that there was obviously misunderstanding and miscommunication between the parties involved," chief executive David White said of the events that led to Taylor's sacking as skipper.

"We've already acknowledged mistakes were made on this issue and we have learned from those mistakes. Team management has given an undertaking to improve communication and to ensure nothing similar occurs again. The board and management of NZC make that same commitment."

So, was anyone at NZC lying, as Taylor said they "definitely" were in a radio interview? He was adamant coach Mike Hesson told him he was gone as captain in all three formats, three days before the first test in Sri Lanka. Hesson maintained he wanted Taylor to remain as test skipper.

"NZC believes it now serves no useful purpose to further rake over the events of the captaincy change. It is time to draw a line under the issue," White said.

So this additional information, as mentioned by chairman Chris Moller in last week's press conference, won't be disclosed. We can glean from this that Taylor's version is rock solid, and Hesson's communication was poor, bordering on woeful, if he indeed wanted Taylor to remain in charge of the test side. The coach hasn't offered a public comment for a fortnight.

Meanwhile, McCullum will lead a mix of solid performers and untested greenhorns on to Durban's Kingsmead early tomorrow with little riding on the T20 series but all eyes fixed firmly on the new skipper. Nearly a fortnight ago McCullum fronted the cameras with a sombre face, insisting he took little joy out of his promotion at Taylor's expense.

He offered few morsels about his captaincy style or aspirations; now the pictures from South Africa will tell a story.

Still, with the helter skelter nature of the T20 and the experimental look to both sides, there won't be a definitive line on how the team are travelling until the first test in Cape Town on January 2.

Both T20 sides included fresh-faced youngsters in their squads for the three-match series, with batsman Faf du Plessis handed the South African captaincy and AB de Villiers a late withdrawal.

New Zealand are without a core of frontliners, too, namely Taylor who opted out, the injured Daniel Vettori, expectant fathers Tim Southee and Jacob Oram, and the unwanted Kyle Mills. Five uncapped players get a chance to show their wares with an ODI squad to be named next week.

Two of them got some early ticks in Wednesday's 24-run win over South Africa A; busy left-arm quick Mitchell McClenaghan (3-19) and the bludgeoning Colin Munro (topscore of 39).

The former bowls a heavy ball and averages 15 at an economy rate of 7.1 in his brief domestic T20 career. The other newcomers are gloveman Derek de Boorder and all-rounders Jimmy Neesham and Corey Anderson.

Bowling coach Shane Bond was impressed by McClenaghan's Wednesday spell, which he described as aggressive and fast. Bond was tipping an evenly contested T20 series.

"Both of the sides probably don't know a lot about each other . . . It's just going to be about who plays the best cricket," Bond said.

Contact Mark Geenty
Deputy sports editor

The Dominion Post