Doull: Ex-players get cold shoulder from NZC

SIMON DOULL
Last updated 12:17 16/12/2012

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OPINION: Despite what the chairman of NZ Cricket says, former Black Caps have shown plenty of interest in contributing their skills and experience.

I'm surprised at New Zealand Cricket chairman Chris Moller expressing disappointment that former Black Caps haven't been putting their names forward to be involved on his organisation's board.

It's become a hot potato following the Ross Taylor affair where a lack of cricket knowledge has been aired as a weakness of the board that governs the game here.

I take umbrage at Moller's suggestion because I think it's a false accusation.

Martin Crowe, arguably our finest batsman and a great cricketing brain, has made no secret of his willingness to be involved at the top level in things off the field, including being on the board.

John Parker, another former Black Cap, has also confirmed that he expressed interest in being on the board without getting much feedback.

I can reveal that I have also put my hand up for certain positions without making much headway.

I'm not talking about being on the board but I feel I've got skills and opportunities to contribute to the Black Caps scene in other key areas.

I've chatted to Moller about the possibility of being a selector and I sent director of cricket John Buchanan an email to that effect. I've also told Moller I had an interest in being on the cricket committee.

My TV commentary work means I see the Black Caps first-hand more than anyone outside of their own inner circle. I'm with them on virtually every away tour and I'm at all of their matches in New Zealand.

I'd say that puts me in a pretty unique position, particularly on overseas tours, to be a sounding board and certainly a third person in discussions between coach and captain.

The selectors are paid, but I wasn't looking for payment and I made that very clear. I'm already being paid for commentary work and my expenses are also covered. It seemed like a win- win scenario, but nothing has come of it.

If they are concerned about my position in the media, I think that's a poor excuse.

Like any former Black Cap, my heart bleeds when I see our old side struggling.

If you listen to commentaries, you'll hear former players on the microphones expressing delight at good individual performances and team efforts.

Equally, you'll hear honest criticism, opinion and analysis when things aren't going well. In terms of credibility I can't afford to offer anything else, especially with so many armchair critics watching the same action unfold on TVs in their lounges.

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Praise, criticism, opinion and analysis? Sounds like the makings of a selector to me!

I think what we've learnt from the rumblings of Crowe and Parker, and what I've just explained, is that there are too many hoops to climb through and too many hurdles to get over to be part of the board, committee or selection panel. There seems to be too much complication in the current system.

Do we actually need cricketers on the NZC board? To an extent, although I certainly don't think we need former players taking over the show.

We still need people with business acumen because the game is very much a business these days.

I just think we need a solid mix of both and they need to be elected appointments.

At the moment the former New Zealand players involved in the top decision-making are chief executive David White and president Stephen Boock. They are established positions but there is no elected ex-player on the board and that is a shortcoming.

I believe there are plenty of former players around with enough knowledge of the game - and a good sense of business practice, as well - willing to contribute.

But it's a bit rich to be critical of them not putting their hands up. Why isn't NZC going out and head-hunting former players of suitable calibre? Isn't that standard practice in good business? If you drew up a wish-list of 10 people, you'd probably bag at least a couple of them as serious candidates.

That's enough of the boardroom talk! Let's not forget there is international cricket on our horizon as the Black Caps prepare to tangle with the Proteas in three T20s starting in South Africa next weekend.

It will be good to be talking about on-field performances after the dramas of the last couple of weeks.

I'm looking forward to this phase of the series, which also features one-dayers and tests.

The Black Caps have selected a squad with some new guys carrying no baggage from the Taylor affair. The Proteas have responded by picking a T20 squad full of new talent themselves.

That gives the Black Caps a starter's chance and the T20s loom as the best opportunity to get a bit more confidence going on the back of the remarkable test win in Sri Lanka.

In this shortest form of the game it might take only one brilliant performance by a batsman or a stunning spell from a bowler to claim a victory rather than the sustained performances required over the five days of a test, where you need five or six players contributing heavily and where Taylor's absence will be magnified.

Simon Doull is a former Black Cap.

- Sunday News

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