Leadership needed, and fast

From first slip

IAN SNOOK
Last updated 10:59 13/12/2012

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OPINION: Yesterday's media presentation by Chris Moller and David White highlighted just what is missing in New Zealand Cricket - any substance and leadership.

The Ross Taylor saga, of which any discussion was banned, is the culmination of a series of bad decisions based on a series of bad appointments in an organisation that never appears to be proactive in formulating the trust and belief required by all participants. At times it seemed as if everyone involved is a "chief" with no Geronimo at the helm.

Taylor's initial appointment in the John Wright era was that of the best player receiving the captain's band, something not uncommon in many countries, although England in particular, and New Zealand occasionally, have chosen the best captain to do the job. With Wright in command, it should have given Taylor time to develop his captaincy skills with a wise old head overseeing the job.

Wright's dismissal, a bad decision, based on the bad appointments of John Buchanan and his travelling buddy Kim Littlejohn, created a situation which saw another bad decision being made, that of the appointment of an inexperienced and young coach in Mike Hesson. No-one considered the fact that Hesson had built a career around the fact that his skills were in the technical side and not the human side. Only experience would provide that.

Hence the Black Caps were being driven by an inexperienced captain and an even less experienced coach, who, like most young coaches, felt he had to show pretty quickly who was in charge.

There was no thought given to the process of helping Taylor become a better captain, and even less thought given to when would be the best time to let Taylor know he would have his stripes taken from him.

There was obviously no big chief guiding Hesson and providing positive direction, only a whole host of management and coaches, none of whom were able or inclined to head him in a more understanding route. Insulating oneself from responsibility is no doubt the catchcry at NZC.

Hence, Taylor and Hesson are now as far apart as any coach and captain have probably ever been. As a coach it is crucial to show a unified front with the captain, and in return the captain must demonstrate the same trust in the coach. This is what leadership is all about, and if that cog is not operating at 100 per cent, there is little likelihood that the team will operate in unison or spirit.

With neither camp relenting on their side of the story it is time for chairman Moller and CEO White to take control. An announcement needs to be made before the South African tour kicks off in respect to what direction NZC is taking in the leadership race so the test captaincy is cleared up.

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Then White's "people" skills need to shoot in to action to "right" the situation. If he does nothing, he should resign. Also, Taylor needs to get back in the saddle and demonstrate that not only is he the best batsman in the country but is the mentally toughest and the person with the most integrity in the setup.

Taylor and Hesson need to forget about the frenzied social media and display the maturity required of leaders. It's going to be a character builder whatever the outcome, but let's hope that NZC have developed a CEO who steps in and runs the whole show with assertiveness and wisdom. Hopefully two key personnel in the team have also learned how tough it is to be performing at the highest level and have an improved understanding of how to get the best out of each other and their team-mates.

The big winner out of this is Brendon McCullum, who has already demonstrated a natural leadership style in recent interviews. A few J R Reid-type performances in South Africa will cement his place as a worthy leader and international cricketer. Don't be surprised if this tour brings the best out of the Otago man.

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.

- Taranaki Daily News

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