Boock: Time for return of incredible sulk

Get over it: Ross Taylor is nursing a bruised ego while his team-mates get battered in South Africa.
Get over it: Ross Taylor is nursing a bruised ego while his team-mates get battered in South Africa.

Benjamin Franklin reckoned anything started in anger would end in shame. Ross Taylor could do himself a favour by thinking about that.

Unless he ends his self-imposed New Zealand exile in time to reach South Africa for the one-day series, his temper tantrum over losing the captaincy is likely to cost him many supporters.

To be sulking at home, at a time when his team-mates are under the hammer in the Republic, speaks volumes of his priorities.

Sunday Star-Times columnist Richard Boock says sometimes being a small island at the bottom of the world is a good thing.
Sunday Star-Times columnist Richard Boock says sometimes being a small island at the bottom of the world is a good thing.

Let's get the disclaimer out of the way: No doubt Taylor was badly wronged by NZC and the entire process was an unmitigated cock-up.

He had every right to feel poorly treated and aggrieved; to feel angry and embarrassed. Most people accept this; the time for litigating the issue has passed. Whatever good reasons might have supported a change to a split-captaincy set-up, the manner in which it was handled was Hekia Parata-like.

That said, as former Lions great Willie John McBride once asked an animated hotel manager (following a team party): "How many dead?"

As bad as it was, Taylor was still offered the test captaincy. He should have accepted it. He should be in Port Elizabeth now, trying his best to defy the No 1 team in the world; shoulder to shoulder with his team-mates. It's not their fault he received a bum deal, after all. Why take it out on them?

It's not even as if Taylor's holding out for anything, as Glenn Turner was when he made himself unavailable for New Zealand until overseas professionals were better compensated for loss of earnings.

Taylor has gone on strike, not for terms, conditions or even money but simply because he's packed a gigantic sad with the coach. Last time anyone did that it was Adam Parore and Chris Cairns, and they were treated like pariahs.

Team sport is supposed to be about selflessness and trust, the need for sacrifice. One of the central planks is that the whole is always greater than the sum of parts. Individualism is to be avoided. The figures who best represent this philosophy often go on to make the best captains. Why? Because the best leaders make decisions for the good of the team rather than for themselves. And they don't quit as soon as they receive a setback.

Taylor, by boycotting the tour of South Africa in full knowledge the team would suffer as a result, has unwittingly provided a sneak glimpse of precisely why NZC wanted a captaincy change.

The manner in which he's reacted - downing tools and abandoning his team-mates in a fit of pique - pretty much says all we need to know about his sense of selflessness. People who refuse to play unless they're captain, seldom make the best captains.

Still, makes you wonder, doesn't it? I mean, how much damage Taylor will deem sufficiently calamitous before he chooses to make his hero's return. Latest is that he'll let the squad stew for a bit longer in South Africa before returning for the tests against England. Or maybe he'll want to press home his advantage in that campaign as well. Expose his mates a little longer so he can feel better about himself.

It's been mildly amusing listening to people castigate Taylor's successor, Brendon McCullum, for his role in the embarrassment at Cape Town. With all due respect, at least McCullum made it to Cape Town. At least he had the fortitude to take on the role in Taylor's absence. People talk about the disgrace of Newlands. Well, there was only one disgrace, and he was watching on from New Zealand.

Couldn't help but notice former South African fast bowler Neil Adcock passed away the other day. Adcock played a central role in the dramatic 1953 Tangiwai test at Johannesburg, sending two New Zealanders, Bert Sutcliffe and Lawrie Miller to hospital. That was also the test in which paceman Bob Blair, left grieving back at the hotel after news of the death of his fiancée, rushed to his team's aid after hearing of their plight on the radio.

Taylor, on the other hand, continues to turn his back on his team-mates merely because his ego has been bruised and his pride dented. Because he's miffed. At a time when he could be in South Africa, proving how wrong NZC and Hesson were, he's instead kicking back at home, proving them dead right.

email or Twitter @richardboock

Sunday Star Times