Cricket: Taylor the victim in NZC mess

Ross Taylor. Photo by Reuters
Ross Taylor. Photo by Reuters
As the New Zealand cricket captaincy fiasco bubbled to a boiling point today, the only man to emerge with his credibility intact was deposed skipper Ross Taylor.

Taylor may no longer be the leader when he returns to the Black Caps after his self-imposed exile, but he will enjoy a swell of public support.

After keeping his counsel during a catastrophic week for New Zealand Cricket, Taylor told his side of the story today and there is no doubting it is a tale deserving sympathy.

In a statement - released through a public relations company and not NZC - Taylor described the decision to dump him as the limited overs captain as "distressing'' and "disappointing''.

But Taylor, who confirmed he turned down the chance to remain as test captain, wished successor Brendon McCullum well and said he was determined to contribute to the team in the future, whoever was in charge.

NZC barely deserve his services after the way it treated him. The organisation's handling of the affair was negligent at best, while a lack of communication from coach Mike Hesson cost the Black Caps their best batsman for the forthcoming tour of world No 1 South Africa.

Hesson today insisted he always intended to have different skippers for different forms, but the coach admitted that fact was not made clear to Taylor.

Having seemingly been stripped of his stewardship, then having seen the saga played out in the media this week while NZC remained silent, it is no wonder Taylor feels he couldn't contribute 100 per cent to the team at this point in time.

In fact, with Hesson's calls to Taylor this week going unreturned, it is difficult to see how the pair can work together when Taylor does want to return.

NZC chief executive David White was adamant Taylor would be available for this summer's home series against England, but Taylor's statement said simply he would return when the time was right.

Whether that is a time with Hesson no longer at the helm is now the burning question. The former Otago coach can be accused of agitating throughout his brief Black Caps tenure for McCullum, with whom he has a close relationship, to take the reins of the team.

Taylor may have been told his days as captain were numbered before the recent test series against Sri Lanka, but Hesson had hardly given Taylor a vote of confidence during the tour of India, Hesson's first in charge, or the Twenty20 World Cup in September.

The captaincy issue - which had previously prompted a reality show-style showdown between Taylor and McCullum when Dan Vettori stepped aside - was allowed to fester as the Black Caps continued to struggle on the field.

White said those struggles were at the heart of Hesson's decision to remove Taylor as captain in the shorter forms, but it would be naive to suggest the same side playing under McCullum's leadership would have performed any better.

This team's problems run significantly deeper than field placements and bowling changes. And McCullum will learn that the hard way during this month's series against South Africa.

If results fail to improve under the new regime, Hesson and White must surely be the next men whose jobs are called into question. Hesson has been in his role for just five months and White is also new to the scene, but Taylor was in charge of the side for a mere 18 months before he was dumped.

And given the unceremonious way that occurred, the heat on Hesson and his employers will now be at an all-time high.

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