Cricket: Fences will need serious mending

It all feels very Machiavellian.

It appears Brendon McCullum has at least partially dethroned Ross Taylor as Black Caps captain and has the biggest challenge of his career ahead of him.

You cannot agitate for the top job without making a few enemies and McCullum's relationship with Taylor - New Zealand's best batsman - will have certainly been strained.

That relationship will have to be patched up, and quickly.

The team needs Taylor performing at his best.

The process has probably left a few people cold, as well.

McCullum's manoeuvring will not have won favour with everyone and some will just be wondering what Taylor has done wrong.

He is still developing in the role, he scored a bucketload of runs in the win against Sri Lanka and presided over a rare away win against Australia.

But there is also a real upside if McCullum is elevated.

His leadership potential is plainly obvious.

He is an experienced campaigner with good cricketing nous and finely tuned instincts.

He commands respect and has a lot of powerful allies, including coach and close friend Mike Hesson.

It is that relationship which may bear the most fruit for the Blacks Caps.

The pair seem to complement each other.

McCullum can be a little headstrong and a tad impulsive.

There is a lot of fight in the little man, whereas Hesson is more thoughtful and calculated, but all that analysis can sometimes stop you from backing a hunch.

McCullum is more likely to charge in and back himself.

His positivity is uplifting and he thinks outside the square.

We could expect aggressive field settings and plenty of bowling changes with McCullum running the cutter.

The tempo of one-day and twenty/20 cricket suits his personality and it is in those formats where we would likely see the most innovation.

McCullum is a strong believer in using players in the role they feel most comfortable in - whether that is hitting over the top while the field is in or rotating the strike in the middle period.

While McCullum and Hesson are bound to have their differences, they have a robust relationship which involves plenty of healthy debate.

It would be an exciting combination but it would be harsh on Taylor.

He was named captain last year after what can only be described as a damaging presidential-style showdown with McCullum, which divided the cricket community.

In many ways, it felt like the pair never stopped auditioning for the job, and when Hesson replaced John Wright as coach after the disappointing tour of the West Indies in August, the captaincy was back on the agenda.

Taylor was so concerned about Hesson's friendship with McCullum he raised it during the interview process.

He was right, too, because it soon become apparent Hesson wanted McCullum as his captain.

It is the coach's preserve to appoint the captain but Hesson's own appointment was controversial and he probably felt he did not have the latitude to act sooner.

It has been reported Hesson asked Taylor to step down before the 10-wicket loss to Sri Lanka in the first test but Taylor refused.

There has also been suggestions Taylor felt increasingly isolated and the majority of the senior players had lined up in McCullum's corner.

Let's hope that, whatever transpires, Taylor does not turn his back on the national team in favour of pursuing a much more lucrative career on the twenty/20 circuit.

A change in leadership may make a difference but what would really make a huge difference for the Black Caps is to score 400 more often.

To do that, they need Taylor's help.


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