Cricket: Taylor deserves some respect

Ross Taylor
Ross Taylor
OPINION: Ross Taylor, according to someone well-acquainted with the New Zealand captaincy brouhaha, is "crushed" by his treatment.

Understandably so, too.

Is his decision to take a complete break during the South African tour wise? Should he have dug deep and retained the test captaincy which was offered to him by coach Mike Hesson, however disingenuously?

His actions are an entirely human reaction to having been put in an appalling situation.

Let's be clear. Hesson is fully entitled to want the captain of his choice. His position stands or falls on the performance of the New Zealand team. If he believes the team's best chance of improving its dire international reputation, and ranking is by changing the man at the top, fair enough.

But timing in sport, as in life, is everything. What would possess a coach to suggest his captain should stand aside before the start of a test series overseas?

Sure, there's little time between tours right now. But even so, to do it in that manner raises a major question mark over Hesson's man management skills.

It is to Taylor's immense credit that he went out and hit 142 and 74 to help set up a 167-run win in Colombo. Imagine the personal stress he must have been feeling. Is that the behaviour of a man unsuited to big challenges?

Certainly New Zealand's test record under Taylor was poor. Is that entirely his fault? Of course not. Is Brendon McCullum going to significantly rectify that in South Africa? Highly unlikely.

Only a supreme optimist would back New Zealand to fully extend, or dare one suggest, beat the world's No 1 outfit.

So the likelihood is that New Zealand will return from their first trip away on McCullum's watch seriously in the red.

What say England give New Zealand a duffing here in February-March. How will McCullum's stock be then?

This is not a slap at McCullum, who doubtless will approach the daunting task with a spring in his step; just that there's no certainty that things will markedly change with a different player wearing the armband.

Stephen Fleming captained New Zealand with distinction from 1997 to 2006. Ask his teammates how long it took before he became the leader his reputation now commands. It didn't happen overnight.

Which raises the question of whether Taylor really had a fair crack. Thirteen tests? Okay, some bad defeats along the way, plus two highly meritorious overseas wins.

Should he have made the best of a mess and gone to South Africa, in whatever capacity? In cricket terms yes. In human terms, his decision is entirely understandable.

When he returns against England, if he divorces himself from his teammates and concentrates simply on scoring runs and taking catches, it too would be understandable.

Taylor has always appealed as a decent man, possibly not ideally suited in all respects to the job. But there's ways and means to make change. People should be treated with respect.

Whichever way NZC try to slice it, there's been little shown to Taylor.

- By David Leggat of the New Zealand Herald


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