NZ Cricket calls in Ralston PR spin team

SIMON PLUMB
Last updated 05:00 23/12/2012
David White
JOHN SELKIRK/Fairfax NZ
MISUNDERSTANDING: David White says he has been assured by senior management that Shane Bond's account of events is inaccurate.

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New Zealand Cricket has hired PR agents for advice with crisis management and media training.

The latest fallout from the Black Caps captaincy saga has seen the taxpayer-funded national cricket body seek professional help from "spin doctors" in an attempt to turn around its dire public image.

Yesterday chief executive David White admitted NZ Cricket is using the services of Deadline Limited - whose directors are former TVNZ head of news Bill Ralston and Janet Wilson, who has previously advised Act MP John Banks.

"We've appointed a PR agency, initiated by management. It's an operational issue, absolutely," White said.

"It's not only crisis management, it's strategy and media training. I would have thought that's not unusual for any organisation."

However, with the deal only days old, the timing suggests it's a direct result of coach Mike Hesson sacking Ross Taylor as Black Caps test captain for Brendon McCullum - and the way in which NZ Cricket carried out the process.

Taylor has made allegations of NZ Cricket administrators being dishonest.

"Consultation started over the last week," White said.

"I'm not giving any more detail than that. It's an internal issue."

White's organisation also refuses to give out any details of claims made by chairman Chris Moller who said "additional material" has emerged on the Taylor turmoil. 

Asked whether the New Zealand public had a right to know more White said "it's an internal matter" and said he doesn't believe public confidence in NZ Cricket should be at all affected. 

The latest annual report of Crown entity Sport New Zealand shows NZ Cricket received $1.85m in public money over 2011/12. White said he had no transparency concerns over the withholding of information.

"I've got no concerns at all," he said.

"We've analysed all the information available, thoroughly looked into it and decided it was a case of miscommunication. We're moving on.

"We've got some limitations in communications, we're hiring additional resources internally too and are looking to continue external advice. It's a long-term strategy."

White said NZ Cricket is also "going through the process" of appointing someone to a communications role.

"That's being done through our human resources manager, I know there's significant interest," he said.

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