Slow Black Caps miss out on Mike Hesson

FRED WOODCOCK
Last updated 05:00 21/07/2011

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Mike Hesson was shortlisted for the role as Black Caps manager but the length of the appointment process has left him no real option but to take up an offer as coach of the Kenyan national cricket team.

The highly rated former Otago coach, who has worked with New Zealand A, the New Zealand Emerging Players squad and the full national team in various capacities, has signed a two-year contract with Kenya and will head for Nairobi this weekend.

The 36-year-old's name was linked to both the manager's role and the newly created national selection manager's position, either of which would have seen him work closely alongside national coach John Wright.

But Hesson said yesterday he couldn't afford to hang about while New Zealand Cricket deliberated over the appointments while he had a firm offer from Kenya on the table.

"I was looking at options within New Zealand Cricket but unfortunately the timing of those appointments ended up being prohibitive, really.

"I needed to make a move and I'm really excited about going to Kenya."

He said he was shortlisted for the Black Caps manager's job but had removed himself from the list.

Hesson, who won two domestic titles in six years with Otago before deciding to step down at the end of last season, is widely regarded as one of the best young coaches in New Zealand, so his loss will be a blow.

But the good news is he wants to return home at some point.

"This is another step up in my coaching career and having an involvement with the ICC [International Cricket Council] can lead to a number of different roles, but New Zealand is always home."

Asked if he saw this appointment as a stepping stone to potentially coaching the Black Caps, Hesson was coy.

"We'll just see what happens."

Hesson replaces West Indian Eldine Baptiste, who left Kenya following the team's poor World Cup showing in the subcontinent earlier this year.

"To coach any national side, and a side that is involved in World Cups and Twenty20 World Cups is a real honour and also a side that's on the rise having hit rock bottom," he said of Kenya, who reached the semifinals at the 2003 World Cup but have since dropped away.

"They've made a lot of changes to their domestic structure and the way they contract players, so it's a good organisation to be part of."

Hesson takes over in time for Kenya's ICC Intercontinental Cup match against the United Arab Emirates in Nairobi next week.

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- The Dominion Post

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