Former New Zealand test captain Ken Rutherford believes new skipper Brendon McCullum's off-field role will have to be just as big as his onfield one, when sacked captain Ross Taylor rejoins the Black Caps' fold.
Taylor withdrew from the coming South African tour after being effectively stripped of the captaincy, following weeks of miscommunication and mismanagement from New Zealand Cricket (NZC).
While McCullum will lead the New Zealand test, one-day and Twenty20 teams in South Africa, Rutherford said the Otago man will have to have a big part in mending the dressing-room relationships when Taylor comes back into the Blacks, probably for the English tour in February and March.
"The greater rift between Taylor and New Zealand Cricket - I think Brendon has a part to play in that as well about getting it smoothed over," he told the Sunday Star-Times.
"This will be where the new captain and the very recently past captain have to get together and nut it out.
"It seems irreparable, the damage that has been done by the coach [Mike Hesson] with the immediately past captain. It seems to be a relationship that's going to take quite a lot of time.
"To rebuild those relationships, it's a case of Brendon and Ross managing this process themselves with maybe someone like [NZC chief executive] David White getting involved."
Having led New Zealand to victory at New Wanderers in Johannesburg in November 1994, Rutherford is one of only three Black Caps test skippers to win a test over South Africa, joining John R Reid (in Cape Town and Port Elizabeth in 1962) and Stephen Fleming (in Auckland in 2004).
He was New Zealand's test captain from 1993 to 1995, and faced his own tumultuous time at the helm - taking over from Martin Crowe, who stayed in the team despite no longer being skipper.
Rutherford, now based in Johannesburg, has long been a supporter of fellow Otago man McCullum becoming the national captain. The 47-year-old believes McCullum should have taken the reins when Daniel Vettori stood down mid last year, and that, while the events of the last week have been ugly, New Zealand now has the right man in the job.
"Nothing I've really seen from Taylor over his tenure has changed my opinion that McCullum would be the better captain," Rutherford said.
"I think in a roundabout kind of way, we've got to a position where the team are probably going to be better served under the captain that we're taking to South Africa.
"Now, that's a harsh call on Taylor considering he won his last test match, he scored the runs and was the star player. But watching some of his captaincy over the last year, or year-and-a-half, he tends to lack initiative. That's the term I'd use. Things tend to roll along, stumble along. When I've been thinking about, gee he's got to change the bowling now, he'd do it 20 minutes later. It's that lack of initiative.
"I don't mean that in a harsh way, but talking to certain people over here about it, captaincy is not learnt.
"You've either got the instinct or you haven't got the instinct - and I don't think Taylor's got the instinct."
- © Fairfax NZ News
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