Cricket: Catching his breath after African perils

Former Otago coach Mike Hesson: "All the security advice we had was that things were not going to get better." Also pictured is Selwyn Grave's barber Leanne Andrews. Photo by Peter McIntosh.
Former Otago coach Mike Hesson: "All the security advice we had was that things were not going to get better." Also pictured is Selwyn Grave's barber Leanne Andrews. Photo by Peter McIntosh.
Former Kenya and Otago coach Mike Hesson got a haircut yesterday.

Not news, normally, but then things are just a bit more sedate in Dunedin than in Nairobi.

There were no grenades going off and the only thing to fear was his barber taking a bit too much off the top.

It is a far cry from his life in Kenya where security concerns forced Hesson to cut short his coaching tenure 10 months into a two-year stint and return to New Zealand with his family.

"I had a number of incidents in my own car when you'd get your wing mirrors smashed off and your windows punched in," Hesson said.

"Those sort of things you just go, 'Oh, well, that's just Kenya, you have to toughen up a bit'.

"But when I was away in Dubai, Kate [Hesson's wife] had an incident with four guys with crowbars trying to break into the car while she was in it.

"Obviously, Kate was pretty overwhelmed by that.

"There was another similar incident with a guy on the roof and a couple of guys either side trying to shake the car and the kids were in it.

"That happened in the middle of the day in a decent sort of an area.

"Then the next day a grenade went off not far from our house.

"All the security advice we had was that things were not going to get better."

With terrorist group Al-Shabaab stepping up its attacks in Nairobi, explosions were a regular rather than rare occurrence, Hesson said.

"At that point we decided this is not the place to be for the family. The career is going well and I'm enjoying the job but family comes first."

Hesson had planned to stay on for the next series against Namibia but the series was cancelled by the ICC because of security concerns.

Hindsight is a wonderful thing but Hesson does not believe it was a mistake to uproot his young family and move to Kenya. There were a lot of positive experiences.

"It was great life experience for us and the kids. We patted some lions, we went on safari and were within metres of hundreds of different species of animals. In the end, Holly (5) was an expert on all sorts of things and learned a lot of Swahili."

The Hessons arrived back in the country on Tuesday night after five flights and 48 hours travel. They are staying in Waihola and plan to catch their breath before making any big decisions.

Kate has secured employment as a solicitor, and will start work in the next few days.

As far as Hesson's coaching future is concerned, there has been wide speculation he is one of the frontrunners to take over from Black Caps coach John Wright when he steps down at the end of the West Indies tour.

Hesson has been in touch with New Zealand Cricket but not specifically about the coaching role and plans to spend the next few months looking after his daughters, Holly and Charlie (22 months).

He certainly did not rule out applying for the job but will wait until he has seen a job description before making a decision.

There has been suggestions the head coaching role might be split to help lighten the load.

"When I first heard the idea I was not so sure. If you have all the responsibility of the job, you want to have control over things.

"But the more you think about it, the more it makes sense, especially when you look at the scheduling.

"Also, in between tours, you can work with the players who are not involved in the current tour and would be able to do a more thorough job with that group.

"If the job is not split that would make things harder in terms of the time you are away travelling, so that would be another consideration as well."