Cricket: Split captaincy shapes as likely outcome

New Zealand captain Ross Taylor watches his shot as he runs between wickets during the second test against Sri Lanka in Colombo last month. REUTERS/Dinuka Liyanawatte
New Zealand captain Ross Taylor watches his shot as he runs between wickets during the second test against Sri Lanka in Colombo last month. REUTERS/Dinuka Liyanawatte
Splitting the captaincy roles between encumbent Ross Taylor and rival Brendon McCullum is emerging as the short-priced outcome from the New Zealand leadership shambles.

That would have Taylor retaining charge of the test team, with opener McCullum running the T20 and ODI legs of the game.

A move to dual captaincy - with McCullum taking charge of the ODI and T20 on-field operations, Taylor staying with tests - would be a straight compromise to keep all relevant parties happy.

But it's fraught with problems. In countries with larger playing bases, and specialist limited-overs players, it's fine. In New Zealand many players play all forms, so are in each other's pockets for most of the year.

If one captain proves more successful than the other, what then? Another change at the top?

If Taylor hangs on, it will be with the country knowing, or at least suspecting, he's in a difficult dressing room situation; McCullum, who has no notable captaincy credentials on his CV, can hardly win either.

Yesterday no-one among the significant players in this farce said anything, other than the man who deserves the largest chunk of sympathy, Taylor.

"A lot of speculation out there," he tweeted last night. "I have heard from the ceo (David White) once. I haven't made any decisions. At no time have I given nzc any ultimatums about hesson, me or south africa."

So the feeding frenzy goes on.

New Zealand Cricket - the chief culprits in what has turned into a PR disaster - hunkered down as White flew back into Auckland from Dubai yesterday.

The T20 and test squads to tour South Africa were initially due to be named yesterday. That is now off to tomorrow, when the Herald understands all will be revealed.

This is the outcome when an organisation cannot settle on the captain they want, having bailed out of offering any backing to the person it appointed 16 months ago.

What you're left with is a mounting pile of innuendo and rumour, or wildly varying reliability. Among the stories being filed in the speculation bin are:

That coach Mike Hesson never really wanted Taylor as skipper, but felt he had to give the encumbent time;

That Hesson, who has longtime links with, and is close to, McCullum asked Taylor to stand down either before the first test in Sri Lanka recently, or between the first and second tests, or upon New Zealand's return home, take your pick;

That Taylor - shock, horror - had sworn at players in the New Zealand dressing room;

That a large group of players don't want Taylor at the helm, and are backing McCullum;

That McCullum had/had not been involved in usurping Taylor's position;

That Taylor has dug his toes in and demanded he stays captain in all three forms or none;

And that Taylor has threatened to pull out of the South African tour.

Sheet this pile of speculation directly to NZC's door.

White has repeatedly insisted there would be no announcement until after the debrief on the Sri Lankan tour. Yet, having become aware of a firestorm building, NZC sat on their hands while two of the country's best players have been left in an appalling situation. What must they be making of their bosses?

In fairness to Hesson, he has the authority to make a key change if he believes it is in the best interests of the team, but the timing is dreadful; the handling of it barely credible.

What a madhouse.

- David Leggat of the New Zealand Herald