READER REPORT:

Your view: Cricket's elephant in the room

JAMIE LAWRENCE
Last updated 12:00 21/01/2013
Brendon McCullum and Mike Hesson
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CAPTAIN AND COACH: Brendon McCullum and Mike Hesson.

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New Zealand cricket is in a state of turmoil.

The administration has lost all respect from the public and former players and experts alike have put in their two cents worth over the past two months.

Now it appears they have grouped together to start some sort of past player revolution. When they meet I wonder if they will talk about the elephant in the room.

By the elephant in the room I mean Brendon McCullum. Not because of his favourite status with the coach or because of the Taylor situation.

It should be because of his performance.

With all the events behind the scenes this summer, the focus has come off the players somewhat.

McCullum's performance has been slipping over the past two years. After his initial success as an opener his figures have fallen to a point where in any other era, people would be asking him to step down.

He has just been appointed captain but a quick analysis of his stats show that we should be talking about his place in the side.

A quick analysis of his statistics shows that since January 2011 he has averaged 28.56 in tests over the past two years. This includes scores against Zimbabwe and Bangladesh.

If we take these out his average drops slightly to 27.74. As an opener, these figures are not good enough if we want to pull ourselves off the bottom of the test rankings.

Compare these figures to Martin Guptill who is likely to be left out of the next test. He averages 28.12 overall and 25.42 against top ranked nations.

These figures are only slightly worse and yet he is considered a small chance to gain selection.

In ODIs McCullum’s figures improve to an average of 39.65. If we take out Bangladesh, Zimbabwe, Scotland, the USA and Ireland and leave in only the top seven countries, it drops all the way to 24.88.

Compare these figures to Guptill's again who averages 43.12 against all nations and 27.61 against top tier nations.

Guptill will continue to open in ODIs but he is under intense scrutiny. McCullum will avoid this scrutiny as long as he continues to keep wicket. When he gives that away, it is only fair that he faces the same scrutiny.

In test matches, McCullum does not keep wicket. He is the opening batter and has consistently failed at the top of the order. New Zealand's top order has been a problem since Mark Richardson retired.

McCullum wanted to provide impetus at the top. It was an admirable offer but it has failed.

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It is time the selectors began to look at the future.

Being an opener is the toughest job in world cricket and it takes time to grow into that role.

McCullum has had two years and at 31 is running out of time.

A move down the order has been mooted but with Taylor and Ryder returning shortly and Watling in hot form, the batting order is convoluted.

It might be time for McCullum to admit that test cricket is not for him.

McCullum often says he wants to play his natural game. He likes to play with flair and attack the ball. These aren’t attributes that suit test cricket.

He has attempted to temper his natural game over the past two years and has failed. He doesn't have the time or the willpower to change his technique.

It is also important for the BlackCaps that he continues to play his natural game in ODIs and T20s.

The split captaincy was Mike Hesson's preferred option. One of the reasons Taylor was initially named captain is because his place in the team was never under threat.

Taylor turned down the split-captaincy option because he felt it was a consolation prize. If McCullum was to step down from the Test side, it might give Taylor the encouragement to step back in.

It is hard to fault McCullum's desire. He is a competitor and you can see the hurt on his face when they lose.

He is passionate but he and the coach need to sit down and decide whether or not he is really a test cricketer.

If he is, he needs to take six months off and rework his technique so that it suits test cricket.

If he is not willing to do this, then he needs to retire from the long format and focus on the shorter formats.

If he chooses the latter, then he may be happier and New Zealand Cricket may be stronger.


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