Opinion: Black Caps reflect country's culture

22:40, Jan 09 2013
Brendon McCullum
OUCH: Brendon McCullum and his side have failed to take responsibility for the first innings collapse against South Africa in Cape Town.

Forty-five all out. It is an odd little phrase. It wouldn't make a lot of sense in America but, then again, it doesn't make a lot of sense here in New Zealand. 

No-one seems to know what to make of it. No-one seems to want to put up their hand and say: "I'm ashamed." No-one is taking ownership.

I blame society. No, really, this is not altogether a joke. Not unless you're a South African. Our culture is mired in grubby little phrases that pretend to a responsibility that doesn't really exist.

"Take ownership."

Translation - look at me, aren't I a big man to take responsibility unlike others I could mention.

"My bad."

Translation - look at me, I'm big enough to stand up and be counted.

"The blame game."

Translation - none of the above phrases is to be taken seriously and nor is this one.

The other day some drunken idiots on a quad bike nearly killed an innocent 6-year-old girl. 

Ashlee Shorrock is still seriously ill in hospital. There were four adults on the bike and no one seems to be owning up to being the driver.

Indeed, the father who allowed his little girl - who should have been in bed - to be driven by an intoxicated driver on an overladen machine, is apparently a victim.

Daniel Shorrock's uncle told The Dominion Post: "We're not judging him for what happened. We just feel for him and what he's going through right now. He needs that kind of love to help him get through."

The person who needs that kind of love is Ashlee Shorrock.

Mr Shorrock needs to be told by everybody who knows him that he is a bloody idiot who risked the life of his little girl through his own selfish stupidity. It's his bad. Except the family isn't playing the blame game.

When I read about that tragedy I just wondered if the demise of the Black Caps was distantly related to a similar reluctance to take full responsibility. The cricketers come from the same generation as the "hooners" and speak the same language.

After being bowled out in under 20 overs, Brendon McCullum talked about "a very hurt bunch of boys". It's a peculiar way of describing the situation. It makes the Black Caps sound like the victims.  Apparently none of them "wanted it enough".

I very much doubt that was the problem. McCullum's dismissal came from an obvious lack of technique. There was a big gap between bat and pad as the brilliant Vernon Philander nipped one back. 

But, of course, that's the way McCullum plays. Heaven forbid he should have done something about it over the years.

And we are still waiting to hear coach Mike Hesson take it on the chin. All he seems to have said so far is that a debacle of historical proportions had nothing to do with the captaincy scandal. 

Never mind that the new captain McCullum made a dreadful decision on winning the toss. And one assumes he didn't have Hesson's support in that decision or the coach would surely have had the dignity to take joint responsibility by now.

Perhaps, the most telling comment in all of this came from John Buchanan, New Zealand's director of cricket.

Buchanan said humiliations would recur "if we don't address four things - integrity, trust, honesty and accountability".

Until then "we can't commit that, as a total organisation, that sort of result" won't happen again.

It was a quite extraordinary statement from Buchanan. He has effectively said there is a culture of suspicion, lying and unaccountability within the Black Caps and New Zealand cricket. And yet we still await a response to Buchanan's devastating allegations.

Is there anyone out there? Would either Hesson, McCullum, Chris Moller or David White like to defend themselves from these charges, because they are extremely serious. There is no doubt that Buchanan was gagged when his captain was removed from office. But now he has something rather specific to say.

Some may dismiss Buchanan as Ned Flanders, the mad Aussie professor who was reviled by Shane Warne. But Buchanan won two Sheffield Shields, two World Cups and a record 16 successive test victories. 

His winning percentage was higher than many of the greatest coaches of all time and he was highly regarded by the likes of Ricky Ponting and Adam Gilchrist.

That is not a bad resume. When it comes to integrity, Gilchrist is one of the few modern batsmen to have walked when he nicked the ball. If Buchanan has Gilchrist's vote, then you would suspect he comes with a few shreds of integrity. 

Certainly, Ross Taylor said Buchanan had been "an amazing support for me" after he lost the captaincy. But, at the moment, everyone seems to be ignoring Buchanan's sulphuric words.

Certainly not everyone in New Zealand cricket is amoral. Dean Brownlie seems to have worked on his deficiencies and come back a better player. 

Jesse Ryder seems to be trying to sort himself out, for which he deserves much encouragement. And somewhere out there is a more than competitive bowling attack.

But what was it McCullum said about New Zealand's batsmen? It was hard to know if you had heard him correctly the first time. Oh, yes... "they deserve an opportunity again especially since we can see some improvements".

What were those words again? Integrity, trust, honesty and accountability. 


Fairfax Media