READER REPORT:

Time for hard call on McCullum

ED ROGGEVEEN
Last updated 05:00 28/01/2014
Brendon McCullum
PETER MEECHAM / Fairfax NZ

Brendon McCullum walks off after being given out during the Boxing Day match against West Indies in Auckland.

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So Brendon McCullum is now a specialist captain - but can the Black Caps afford such a luxury?

They are having a good run at the moment, but we all wait with bated breath for the inconsistency to return. We struggle to beat anyone with our best 11 players on the field, so surely having someone in this position is a dubious tactic?

McCullum has flashes of brilliance and at his best he is awesome to watch and a genuine game changer. But his recent form with the bat does not justify his continued inclusion in the team. If he still kept wicket, then OK, he could bat at seven and score a few useful runs.

But he is a specialist batsman. His last 11 scores of in test matches were: 2, 8, 20, 1, 21, 22, 11, 113, 9, 37, and 12 - a total of 256 runs at 23.27.

In one-day internationals (ODIs) his last 10 scores were 8, 0, 14, 51, 33, 14, 6, 30, 0 and 0 - a total of 156 at a miserable average of 15.60.

Any other player would be under severe pressure with these dismal numbers. His overall averages of 35.21 (tests) and 30.17 (ODIs) are underwhelming to say the least. And what the statistics don't show is the continued reckless manner in which McCullum bats and gets out. He seems to have no control.

England had a specialist captain in the late 70s to early 80s in Mike Brearley. He was widely considered one of the very best of all time in the captaincy department, and England could afford to put up with his woeful batting average because he had the likes of Botham, Willis, Gower, and Boycott in his team - four genuine matchwinners.

The Black Caps do not have that luxury and so it must be decided if McCullum's captaincy is of such quality that it can afford to carry his batting while the likes of Tom Latham (tests) and Hamish Rutherford (ODIs) cannot seem to get a look in.

McCullum has shown he is a proactive captain, willing to make things happen, and that is a positive thing. But I do wonder if some of his decisions are the result of a lucky guess, rather than any depth of thought.

Whether or not Ross Taylor would be prepared to take on the captaincy given the disgraceful treatment he received from Mike Hesson is debatable. But in ODI format Kane Williamson is ready to take the step up and one would hope Taylor would put the team first and take the test captaincy back.

McCullum appears to be the golden boy of NZ Cricket and his failings are regularly overlooked. Can they make the hard call as they did with Jeff Crowe in 1988? 


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