Hesson concedes miscommunication a factor
Should Ross Taylor have made himself available for the tour of South Africa?
New Zealand cricket coach Mike Hesson insists he has always wanted Ross Taylor to be his test captain but admits he may not have made that clear to Taylor during a post-ODI series debrief in Sri Lanka last month.
Hesson today conceded he told Taylor of his plans to make a "change to the leadership" in a meeting in Galle on November 13, the day after New Zealand's 3-0 ODI series defeat to Sri Lanka and just four days out from the first test match.
Hesson said the debrief, in which assistant coach Bob Carter and team manager Mike Sandle were also present, was focused on the limited overs section of the tour as they wanted to get that out of the way before the tests. He said the reason he dropped the bombshell on Taylor just days out from the test was so he didn't find out through another source. He wanted to be "honest and up front" but admitted the timing was "unfortunate".
However, Hesson did not make it clear to Taylor that he was only talking about the limited overs captaincy. The coach said then, as it is now, his preference was always for Taylor to be the test captain and he is disappointed that Taylor has opted not to take up that role, and withdrawn from the tour to South Africa.
"Unfortunately there is never a good time to deliver a message like that," Hesson said today, defending his choice of timing.
"We have a revolving schedule and I certainly wanted to get that meeting out of the way, make a recommendation and focus on the test series ahead.
"The meeting was a review of the one-day series but I didn't mention - and I've spoken to both Bob and Mike since - whether that was one form, two forms or three forms. I eluded to the fact I would be making a recommendation to make a change to the leadership.
"I'm unsure how Ross felt regarded that discussion. I certainly regret it if he felt that was in relation to the test side. The review was in relation to the one-day series.
"I understand, through the media, that he didn't know that and I certainly regret that. I had spoken to Ross once the recommendation went in and stated my preference was for him to remain as test captain."
When asked if he had hoped Taylor would stand down before the test series in Sri Lanka, Hesson said: "Not at all, and my recommendation was for Ross Taylor to remain as test captain. That was certainly my preferred option."
He simply believed split captaincy, with Brendon McCullum leading the limited overs formats, was the best option for the team. Ironically, McCullum now leads the team in all three formats - exactly what Hesson did not want - and he said that was "not his preference".
Taylor had turned down the test captaincy, period, which means he will not be captaining the test team against England at home this summer when he returns to the setup after missing the South African tour.
The coach acknowledged he would need to have "a lot of discussions" with Taylor after the South African tour - their relationship has been described as untenable. He insisted Taylor was a big part of New Zealand cricket's future plans.
Hesson denied he entered the role three months ago with pre-conceived ideas that McCullum, whom he knows from his days coaching Otago, would take over the captaincy.
His view that split captaincy was the best way to go had been a result of "observation" during his 100 days in charge and was the "best idea for the team".
McCullum read the one-day game well and was adaptable.
When asked if that meant Taylor did not possess those attributes, Hesson reiterated his stance that split captaincy was best because of the workload involved, pointing out that it works for other nations.
"My judgement is that I think Brendon McCullum will be a better captain in ODI and T20 cricket for the Black Caps moving forward, and I think Ross Taylor will be the best test captain," adding that it would have been remiss of him not to look at changes after just five wins in the past 30 ODIs against significant opponents.
Asked if Taylor was not up to captaincy in all three forms, he said: "It's very difficult for anybody to be up to that."
As for Taylor's decision to skip the South African tour, Hesson said it was "understandable".
"Ross will have his reasons and I'm sure he'll voice those but my responsibilities are to the team and doing what I feel is best.
"The Black Caps will be worse off without Ross Taylor, without a doubt. Ross Taylor is a superb batsman and our most consistent player, but I think it's very important to separate the batsman and the captaincy issue."
Hesson said the last time he had spoken to Taylor was Monday morning. He had not spoken to him since learning of his decision to pull out of the tour and despite being coach and chief selector, he had not attempted to talk Taylor, the team's best batsman, into boarding the plane.
"I've made calls but I haven't spoken to Ross, no."
Quizzed about whether he had a responsibility to at least try to talk Taylor into touring, he said: "My recommendation was made, I was certainly very keen to have Ross on board (as captain) and the Black Caps team will be worse off for not having him in South Africa."