Cricket: Choice of captain not clear-cut

Brendon McCullum and Ross Taylor - who would make the best captain of the New Zealand cricket team? Photo Getty
Brendon McCullum and Ross Taylor - who would make the best captain of the New Zealand cricket team? Photo Getty
It's been an unsightly week for New Zealand cricket.

A win in Colombo should have been greeted with a mix of relief and delight. Instead it has been almost forgotten in the storm over whether Ross Taylor should remain national captain or be replaced, either altogether or in short form games, by Brendon McCullum.

NZC are the villains-in-chief for truly awful management of what was always going to be a difficult situation.

But what of the two men at the centre of the firestorm. How do they compare, or differ, in key areas?

* Leadership

Taylor captained New Zealand in their last 13 tests, for four wins, two draws and seven losses. His test average as captain is 49.85, six runs better than when not captain. He goes at 37.86 in his 116 ODIs; and a terrific 49.76 in 20 games as skipper. He's had six wins and 12 losses in those.

McCullum has never captained New Zealand in a test, but has done so in eight of his 206 ODIs. He averages 50.12 as skipper, versus 30.24 when not.

In T20s, New Zealand have won five of his 12 in charge, although two were against Zimbabwe.

* Personality

Taylor is a laidback character, at least on the outside. He may get wound up, but hides it pretty well. One exception was the press conference after the dramatic win over Australia at Hobart. That day Taylor's voice was breaking with emotion as he said "that was for the New Zealand public". A private conversation next day re-emphasised how much that victory meant to him.

McCullum appeals as the more outgoing personality, with an element of the cheeky chappie. He's likely to take a chance if things aren't working, or he feels a punt is worth taking. This could go badly, or turn a game.

However, he has far less experience as leader.

* Contribution

Taylor is the team's best batsman. Sure he can get out in infuriating ways but a Taylorless batting lineup is significantly weaker. Generally a safe pair of hands at slip, although prone to the odd blooper of late.

No player angers the public more with his modes of dismissal than "Baz". His talent is all too apparent. A double century opening in Hyderabad in 2010 and any number of blazing short-form innings show that.

Most wicketkeepers have uniformly safe hands when not wearing the big gloves. Not so McCullum, who grasses more than he should.

* On-field presence

Taylor tends to be unobtrusive, at least as much as the guy setting fields alongside the bowlers and directing plays can be.

When he was keeping McCullum, as the gee-up man in chief, was always visible; less so now that he's given up the test gloves. There's no rule which says the captain has to be an arm-waver. It is more about the ability to command. You just know M.S. Dhoni, Graeme Smith and Michael Clarke are captains just by watching them in the field.

Less so these two rivals.

- David Leggat of the New Zealand Herald