Ross Taylor. Photo Reuters
Ross Taylor is fighting to retain his captaincy of the
New Zealand cricket team.
His reign of 16 months could end tomorrow when the T20 and
test squads leaving for South Africa next week are due to be
Yet Taylor, if he is dumped by the selection panel of coach
Mike Hesson and selection manager Kim Littlejohn, would be in
a rare situation of having been removed straight after
overseeing a highly meritorious victory.
The captaincy is part of a debrief into the Sir Lanka tour,
on which New Zealand lost their ODI series 3-0 and were
heavily beaten in the first test before rebounding
impressively in Colombo last week for a 167-run win.
"We are undertaking a full review of all aspects of the
tour," New Zealand Cricket chief executive David White said
from Dubai last night.
He would not speculate on the captaincy but accepted being
away on International Cricket Council business while the tour
was being assessed, and the captaincy on the line, was "not
The whispers grew through the day yesterday that Taylor's job
was on the line.
Opener Brendon McCullum, his rival when a replacement for Dan
Vettori was needed after the World Cup in March last year, is
the only other candidate.
Taylor and McCullum went through a messy auditioning process.
Rightly or not, Taylor was seen as a "safer" option than the
flamboyant McCullum. Although McCullum is known to have had
misgivings over that selection method, he still has ambitions
to be New Zealand captain.
Player unhappiness has been suggested as a factor in the
imbroglio. Talk of Taylor having "lost" at least the more
bullish bowling half of the dressing room began circulating
late last season. Yet, Colombo notwithstanding, there are
several New Zealand players who should be looking at their
own performances rather than agitating for a new leader.
Taylor's batting numbers suggest a player whose own game has
thrived with the pressure of leadership.
When Hesson, an Otago man and with longtime links to
McCullum, was appointed in time for the tour of India in
August, replacing John Wright, he stuck with Taylor.
Under the Central Districts man, New Zealand have lost seven
and won four of 13 tests; however, two of the four were
against lowly Zimbabwe. The others were notable feathers in
the cap, however, against Australia in Hobart last December,
and last week.
A source close to developments yesterday conceded the debrief
on the Sri Lankan tour would be "crunchier" than usual.
Another believed "the longer this goes on it makes it harder
for everyone. It is almost untenable at the moment."
Three options are on the table: stick with Taylor, split the
captaincy with Taylor retaining tests and McCullum getting
his chance in the two shorter forms; or removing Taylor
The problem now for McCullum is perception: that if he is
made captain, there will inevitably be a school of thought,
however exaggerated, that he has been active in the dressing
As for the idea of splitting the captaincy, the problem is
that if one team does significantly better than the other,
should the less successful captain then be removed
It is shaping as another fine mess for NZC to pick its way
- David Leggat of the New Zealand Herald