Poor communication started, and finished, this fiasco.
New Zealand coach Mike Hesson and chief executive David White finally revealed their "masterplan" yesterday, that they always intended Ross Taylor would remain as test captain.
A shame, then, that no-one told Taylor this in so many words, his wounds still fresh from his own night of the long knives in Sri Lanka on November 13, four days before the first test.
"They [Hesson, manager Mike Sandle and assistant coach Bob Carter] pretty much said that I wasn't good enough to captain the team. I was pretty stunned and I didn't really know what to say," Taylor said. "In no way was he [Hesson] implying for one form of the game, he was implying for the whole of it."
Hesson fronted the cameras in Christchurch, White in Auckland yesterday after one of the worst public relations blunders in New Zealand sport.
The coach made a quasi-apology for giving Taylor the impression he was to be sacked. And he insisted having Brendon McCullum as captain in all three formats to face South Africa was "certainly not my preferred option".
"It's unfortunate that he [Taylor] felt that way and that was certainly not the intention. When the recommendation was made, it was that Ross Taylor remain as captain of the test side and that was what I sent to the board," Hesson said.
Taylor declined that offer and will miss the tour of South Africa in the hope of being in the right frame of mind to face England in February.
But Hesson wasn't apologising for sacking Taylor as T20 and ODI skipper.
"It's a difficult message to deliver at any time. I was well aware that Ross had taken the message hard; it's obviously a tough message to take.
"Unfortunately for the Black Caps to move forward, that's my consideration. We're ranked ninth in the world in one-day cricket, eighth in T20 and eighth in test cricket, then sharing the load in terms of the captaincy was the best way forward."
Doing nothing, and continuing with Taylor as skipper in all three formats would have been the easy option, Hesson said.
He rejected Taylor's assertion that he never reciprocated the support he received from his captain after being appointed in August. "I don't agree with that. I was really keen to work with Ross when we first started and we worked well right through the World Cup.
"But following the Sri Lanka one-day series I had my reservations about us moving forward and that's where my recommendation came."
Hesson's telling quote during the World T20 in Sri Lanka in September, where he refused to endorse Taylor as captain, lit the fuse that finally blew up this week.
So McCullum will front the media today for the first time as New Zealand's 28th test skipper. White telephoned McCullum with the news on Thursday night, after Taylor informed White he wouldn't accept the test captaincy during a three-hour meeting.
Hesson and McCullum, friends who've worked together with success for Otago in recent years, spoke briefly on Thursday. McCullum supported Taylor all along, Hesson said, and agreed the team would be far weaker for his absence in South Africa where they face a huge challenge.
For White's part, he was bombarded in Auckland. He oversaw the firestorm this week and was too slow to return from ICC business in Dubai to douse it.
White confirmed Taylor wanted to stay as captain of all three forms of the game. Clearly Taylor refused to back down from that stance and has decided, instead, to walk away for the time being.
- © Fairfax NZ News