Taylor's brilliance played a huge part in New Zealand's victory

PODS HOOD - CRICKET SUNDRIES
Last updated 12:00 30/11/2012

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OPINION: After a turbulent week of criticism from many quarters, it was great to see Black Caps skipper Ross Taylor lead from the front with a brilliant century and another quality knock in the second innings to help beat Sri Lanka last night.

Taylor had plenty of doubters after the first test debacle. Rumours of senior players and even coach Mike Hesson having undermined Taylor in recent months haven't helped the situation.

I for one, however, hope Hesson and the New Zealand Cricket board see sense and give Taylor the time to mould a successful team that is at the stage where frankly it needs to move on some of the older players that have been so influential for a long time.

This is a predominantly youthful and talented Black Caps team that simply isn't that good, yet. What people need to realise is that when Taylor performs with the bat, we do well, but when he doesn't, we fall to bits.

While the team has been losing, Taylor has consistently performed as captain, averaging over 50 in test cricket and 68 in one-day internationals.

The other so-called candidates for the captaincy can't get close to matching Taylor's consistency of performance with the willow.

It leaves me wondering do people calling for Taylor's head really think appointing an erratic player and personality like Brendon McCullum, or a player struggling to find consistency like Kane Williamson, will actually help our already terribly unpredictable team?

■ The New Zealand Cup and Shield competitions held at Ongley Park this week were a great example of quality national tournaments run by the Manawatu Cricket Association with the support of the cricket community.

Ground staff had been working on delivering quality pitches for weeks while Palmerston North Boys' High School supplied umpires and scorers for all matches.

MCA development manager Dave Meiring did a great job pulling it all together and along with MCA coaching manager, Michael Mason, could be seen running around the park setting up tables and tents during the tournament.

Next up for the crew is the NZCT Cup secondary schoolgirls' national tournament starting on December 7.

After the withdrawal of one of the finalists, Palmerston North Girls' High School have been invited to participate in the NZCT Cup after initially missing out due to a controversial loss during the Central Districts tournament in March.

They are also expected to have star player Hannah Rowe for the tournament despite a shocking piece of scheduling which has seen the tournament clash with a round of domestic cricket where Rowe plays for the CD Hinds.

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Already one of the quickest bowlers in the country and useful with the bat, expect Rowe to dominate the tournament.

She will have strong support from Manawatu senior rep players Nikita Hannam and Sam Rowe as well as last year's CD under-15 rep Sarah Power as Girls' High look to have their names etched on the cup for the first time.

■ Star of television show 7 Days and one of New Zealand's leading comedians, Ben Hurley has been confirmed for the JVL Prestige Realty Manawatu Cricket dinner to be held on March 12.

Hurley is a genuine cricket fanatic and his passion for the game and razor-sharp wit will be a great addition to the evening headlined by former English player and renowned radio commentator Jonathan Agnew.

Anyone interested in purchasing an individual ticket or a table of eight should get in touch with me at the MCA Office.

- © Fairfax NZ News

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