Call it the perfect storm: the once-in-a-lifetime set of circumstances that has put cricket in this country in a dinghy in the middle of the Southern Ocean with just a bailing bucket for protection.
New Zealand Cricket has never operated in the calmest of seas but a series of separate but interconnected fronts have combined to increase the conditions from choppy to rough.
Some of the fronts have been forecast and the defences should have been set up better but others just couldn't have been foreseen.
The "first front"' is simply natural attrition.
After the dark days of the early 1990s, New Zealand got a clump of very good players all at once. Out of the once robust age-group system came the likes of Stephen Fleming, Dion Nash, Nathan Astle, Adam Parore, Geoff Allott, Matthew Hart, Matt Horne, Jeff Wilson, Gary Stead and Blair Pocock. Immediately preceding them were Chris Cairns, Craig Spearman and Chris Harris. Immediately following them were Craig McMillan, Shane Bond and Robbie Hart.
In the context of New Zealand, that's an extraordinary crop of talent over a short period. Sure, not all of them fulfilled their potential but several did and all played international cricket at one point or another.
But age either wearied them or just plain broke them. Back injuries meant Nash and Allott finished well before their time, Bond was a "sometime" superstar, while the likes of Pocock and Parore had interests outside of cricket. Of that group, Fleming is the only one still playing international cricket and he is planning to call it quits soon. McMillan and possibly Astle still should be but their demise can be directly linked to "front two", which can be facetiously referred to as the "Charlesworth effect".
Change agent Ric Charlesworth rolled into New Zealand Cricket with a CV sent from heaven and a modus operandi that several senior players thought was straight from hell.
The key was to ensure that the big names never felt they had a sinecure; that their spot in the side was as dependent on results as the rest.
In theory, it is sound thinking and even in the light of what has happened, it is hard to argue with the principle. What Charlesworth, or the selectors who implemented his thinking, would not have counted on was the ingrained arrogance of cricketers who have never been truly challenged before. Some reacted with indifference, others with hostility. Instead of wondering why they might have been dropped and embarking on a programme of self-improvement, they thought only of the match fees they were missing.
Yes, at times the selection policies were incoherent and at others downright illogical (Astle details his dropping from the one-day side in his book and it provides plenty of food for thought) but if you're going to retire because you're no longer an untouchable then you're probably more than halfway gone already.
Unfortunately for NZC, with a lot of experienced players pulling the pin, you need replacements and "front three" is the lack of quality youngsters.
This is the major flaw in the Charlesworth theorem. If you are going to shake the tree, make sure there are some decent apples left when the old ones fall.
There has been such a dearth of talent coming through the no-longer robust age-group system that unpolished talents like Ross Taylor are latched on to like they're manna from heaven.
Nobody is sure why the well has dried up but it is significant that the talented group mentioned in front one came through before the Academy was launched.
Since the inception of the Academy New Zealand has produced few players of international class. That has been an uncomfortable truth few at New Zealand Cricket have been willing to address. Charlesworth effectively dismantled the Academy. Nobody can argue with the sense in that.
The "fourth front", as chief executive Justin Vaughan is finding out, is difficult to legislate for.
India's burgeoning and almost unadulterated power stems from a broadcasting war that swamps the rest of the cricket world in size and scale. The battleground is Twenty20 and the fight between the "rebel" Indian Cricket League and the endorsed Indian Premier League has already claimed New Zealand's best bowler. Few could have predicted the impact that would have on cricket here. Actually, scratch that, one person did.
Heath Mills, boss of the players' association, was warning this newspaper of the dire consequences the Indian Cricket League could have on NZC way back in August last year. He almost pleaded to the International Cricket Council for them to, if not embrace, then recognise the ICL as a harmless, lucrative, temporary interloper. Instead, to his horror, the ICL was deemed a "rebel" league.
So now, if you're signed to the IPL you can play for NZ but if you're signed to the ICL you can't, even if you have a clause in your contract from the ICL saying you will be available for all international cricket.
Comprehend? No, nobody really does. It's seen our most in-form batsman (McMillan) retire early, our best bowler (Bond) forced to annul his NZC contract and will also see our second-best bowler (Andre Adams) follow suit.
There will be more to go as well. And this is somehow in the best interests of New Zealand cricket?
The above would surely have not had such a profound effect if it hadn't occurred at the same time as Martin Snedden, a ruthless and utterly effective administrator, had vacated his post as chief executive at NZC to take up a post at Rugby NZ 2011. This is "front five"', unkindly summed up as a leadership vacuum.
That is not to say Vaughan is not capable, just that he couldn't have chosen a more challenging time to enter the fray. He is a smart man and smart men usually find their way around problems but it might take longer in inexperienced hands.
At the same time, the selectors, in their collective wisdom, chose to denude long-time and successful captain Fleming of his powers.
In one fell swoop, the man who should have been Vaughan's key ally in attempting to keep players in the game was instead questioning his own future.
Against this backdrop New Zealand is facing England, a team that has at any given time, more than 200 first-class players to pick from.
Success should be treasured, not expected.By Dylan Cleaver Email Dylan