Leading sports psychologist Gary Hermansson is confident ex-Black Caps skipper Ross Taylor and national coach Mike Hesson can work together again, despite their falling-out over the axing of the former captain two months ago.
Recognised as one of New Zealand's top minds on getting the best out of athletes, Hermansson has known Taylor since he was a young cricketer at Central Districts, and has strengthened that relationship through the Black Caps, who Hermansson has worked with in the past.
He met with Taylor, who stood himself down from the recent South African tour after being removed as New Zealand captain in early December, last week in Napier to discuss his mindset moving forward.
Taylor has played his first cricket at McLean Park since McCullum replaced him as national captain, when his Central Districts side played Canterbury in the Plunket Shield.
A potential lack of trust, Hermansson said, will be the biggest issue for Taylor and Hesson to work through if he returns to the Black Caps fold for the upcoming English tour.
"With Ross, he's got to be able to deal with the other stuff in the right place but when he steps out in the middle, he's got to narrow the tension down on the things that matter in the moment," said Hermansson, who has acted as the sports psychologist for New Zealand's Olympic and Commonwealth Games teams in the past.
"There will be some transition of [Taylor and Hesson] finding a way to work together, and finding a ground that they can both work from. Inevitably, there will be some issues that will be a bit tense and a bit tight and it's the extent to which they can come to a sense of an ‘agree to disagree' situation, but then move forward.
"They will have to reach a point where they can move forward," he said. "That will be somewhat cautiously I imagine, and it may not ever be resolved in a way that they both feel really comfortable about."
Hermansson said he has worked with athletes in the past who have coaches they don't feel completely comfortable with, adding there is always a way for both parties to move forward.
"They don't have to like each other, but they have to have enough respect or enough ability to put that lack of respect aside," he said.
Hermansson vouches for Taylor's mental toughness and said the recent strife for the batsman "will only make him stronger". "He's shown he can do that already. He's a mentally tough man, he's resilient . . . clearly he's got mental toughness. But that's not to say this hasn't shaken him quite badly," he said.
"The real important thing is he is finding the best way to try and come back and do his job. Sometimes you have these scars along the way.
"Sometimes it's like that old cliche - what doesn't kill you, makes you stronger. From that point of view, Ross, being the person he is, will get some things out of this that will strengthen his mindset and mentality as well. I'm quite optimistic he's going to grow from this experience and we'll see that in the time to come."
- Sunday Star Times