Snook: McCullum falls short of high standard

IAN SNOOK
Last updated 05:00 12/12/2013

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OPINION: With the New Zealand Rugby Awards topping off a season of never-ending backslapping and cheerleading from the media closely associated with the All Blacks, Sky has now ensured the cricket commentary team should follow suit and ensure that the Black Caps are promoted just as enthusiastically, no matter the results.

There must be a document of "over positivity" that has to be signed off on by the commentary team. Although this might not be a bad thing, it more than likely cuts across what should really be said in certain situations.

What is required for the viewer is a clarity of what is happening, demonstrating an understanding of both positive and negative aspects.

Our experts have a long way to go to catch up with the Channel 9 lot in Australia who, led by Ian Healey, readily and excitedly cheer their team to victory.

Should the Black Caps ever win a test again, one gets the feeling that every team member will be close to making a world XI.

The radio team, filled with the likes of Glenn Turner and Jeremy Coney, are far better to listen to because they say it how it really is, based on a huge amount of knowledge and lumps of honesty.

There is no vindictiveness, just good common sense. There are no excuses and much of what is said is positive, even if Brendon McCullum is complaining about the scrutiny.

In fact, McCullum's captaincy has come in for a fair bit of criticism and rightfully so. If ever he was in a position of confidence and power following his first innings century, this was the perfect time to demonstrate his ability to lead with assurance and conviction.

Sadly, it was not to be.

The way he allowed the West Indies innings to drag on without controlling the run gathering of Darren Bravo, and then to be quoted in the paper that he didn't think the West Indies batters would last so long, showed both a lack of cricket nous and a huge amount of naivety.

Once again, one must question the amount of mental strength these leaders possess.

Forget about whether or not he should have batted again, or whether the team should have pushed harder for quick runs in the second innings with the rain about, his failure to be pro-active and imaginative as the leader in the field was what allowed the West Indies to reach 500 and survive for so long.

Cricket is one game where the captaincy has a huge influence and can make the telling difference between success and failure.

This needs to be McCullum's point of difference as he strives for credibility at the top level.

Hopefully, he will take the criticism on the chin and move forward, although accepting censure with a smile and an inner determination to prove people wrong, doesn't seem to be the way these days. It would be great if his grin, enthusiasm and determination returns at the Basin. As is now the norm, New Zealand cricket lovers wait in anticipation.

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Hopefully, by the end of the weekend, there will have been a step forward on the ladder.

While we wait, the commentary team will be practising their pronunciation of words such as "glorious, wonderful, splendid and superb" which they will be hoping can be used during the Black Caps bowling spells, and not just at the lunch table.

Fingers crossed.

Ian Snook is a former Taranaki and Central Districts captain. He is one of only four men to have played more than 100 games for Taranaki.

- © Fairfax NZ News

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