OPINION: Mike Hesson has prevailed in an underwhelming race to be the New Zealand cricket coach and the question on everyone's lips is “is he up to it?”.
With no playing pedigree and a coaching background limited to Otago and Kenya, Hesson is punching above his weight.
Two factors came into play for the 37-year-old to end up in the role: the field was thin and Hesson has the organisational skills New Zealand Cricket is obsessed by.
Many of us believe the primary role of a coach is to add strategic value, particularly when a match lies in the balance. He needs to be able to take his team aside at the tea break and spring tactics that can swing the course of a match.
At the selection table he needs to produce names no-one else picked up on. We have seen examples of that under outgoing Black Caps coach John Wright, most notably turning B J Watling into a wicketkeeper batsman.
Listening to people who know Hesson and from my own experiences, strategy and tactics are not his strength. He presents well, knows his cricket, but does he know more than his senior players? Hesson will be thorough and hard-working and most importantly in NZ Cricket's book, organised. Some of these qualities seem more suited to the manager's position, a role he has been previously linked to.
Hesson is going to be John Buchanan's puppet. He is going to carry out the clever yet complicated Australian's plans. Expect to see Hesson with a clipboard. Everything will be documented. Don't expect to see much off the cuff.
In a watered-down way, New Zealand is attempting to take a leaf out of England's book.
England are coached by Andy Flower, a former top drawer left-hand batsman for Zimbabwe and later Essex.
Flower is reported to have 18 staff. He leaves the coaching to the likes of Graham Gooch (batting) and David Saker (bowling) but he runs a tight ship and tops the team off beautifully before every game.
Hesson might be able to tighten up New Zealand's ship but can he add strategic value and stir them into action? At some point early in his tenure the players will look to him to provide value and he cannot afford to dither. Former coach Andy Moles was found wanting and the players were rid of him by lunchtime.
Having a commanding captain would compensate for a managerial-type coach like Hesson but New Zealand have quite the opposite. Taylor is still finding his feet and lacks backup.
Every captain needs a good lieutenant. Stephen Fleming had Adam Parore and Scott Styris, Daniel Vettori had Brendon McCullum, McCullum would've had Vettori but Taylor got the nod and because of that flies pretty much solo.
The Black Caps have a difficult 10 months ahead. They are away to India, South Africa and England, and home to the Poms as well. One shouldn't expect miracles under Hesson.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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