No decision on Black Caps vice-captain yet

MARK GEENTY
Last updated 05:00 25/02/2013
BrendonMcCullum
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HURT: Brendon McCullum suffered an abdominal strain.
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As Brendon McCullum battles an abdominal strain, the leadership of the New Zealand cricket team continues to be a hot topic after coach Mike Hesson couldn't confirm a vice-captain yesterday.

Hesson deflected a question about whether Kane Williamson would continue to be McCullum's test deputy, as he was in South Africa. Hesson even denied Williamson was the designated backup in South Africa despite the captain himself confirming that to reporters before the first test in Cape Town in January.

McCullum suffered the injury while batting in the third ODI in Auckland and Hesson said he was "a bit sore" afterward. But with a week of rest Hesson was confident the skipper would be fit for the first test in Dunedin on March 6.

Williamson, Ross Taylor and Tim Southee appear the three contenders to lead if McCullum is absent for any reason. Taylor seems unlikely though, given his "work in progress" relationship with Hesson which involves minimal dialogue in the wake of his removal as skipper last year.

It led to the following exchange in Auckland yesterday which raised more questions than answers.

Reporter: If Brendon McCullum was to leave the field then would Kane Williamson be captain?

Hesson: "You'll find out."

Reporter: Are you saying that Kane Williamson is not the replacement captain if McCullum goes off, or it hasn't been decided yet?

Hesson: "It hasn't been decided yet. We haven't got our leadership group together yet and we won't do that till March 3 when we get together in Dunedin."

Reporter: So what's changed from South Africa when Kane Williamson was the designated deputy?

Hesson: "We didn't designate a deputy in any form of the game in South Africa. We had a leadership group, we had a number of guys that could have taken over and we'll continue to do that."

Reporter: I thought Brendon McCullum said that Williamson would take over if he left the field in Cape Town?

Hesson: "No, not that I'm aware of."

Reporter: He [McCullum] did say that.

Hesson: "OK. We've got a leadership group of three and we haven't formed that leadership group for this series and one of those three will be the one that will take over."

Reporter: Who are they?

Hesson: "As I said we haven't formed it yet because we haven't met in Dunedin."

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Reporter: There was a lot of talk about Tim Southee being promoted up the ranks as a vice-captain [before his thumb surgery], is there thought being given to that?

Hesson: "In our leadership group we'll probably cover most bases so we'll have a bowler and a batsman. Obviously Tim leads that bowling attack so it's a fair summation that Tim will be part of that leadership group but to say that Tim will be vice-captain is probably taking three steps forward."

- The Dominion Post

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