Andrew Alderson

Andrew Alderson is a sport writer for the Herald on Sunday.

Cricket: Modern game dotted with personality clashes

Glenn Turner. Photo / APN
Glenn Turner. Photo / APN

New Zealand Cricket is no stranger to spats. With a dearth of cricketing resources, our international teams have traditionally struggled. The resulting pressure has brought out the worst. Bearing in mind the current captaincy debacle and wider disenchantment, here are six of the country's direst cricket controversies.

1 Professional v Amateur, 1977

Glenn Turner and Walter Hadlee offered the New Zealand game plenty as test captains, selectors and coach/managers. Yet their spat over what constituted 'professionalism' resulted in Turner refusing to play a test for New Zealand between March 1977 and February 1983.

History paints Turner - the only New Zealander to score more than 100 first class centuries (103) - as a pioneer with a reputation for independent thought who paved the way for today's professionals. Hadlee, as head of the then-New Zealand Cricket Council, was a stickler for an amateur ethos. He backed up his words. In 1977, Hadlee led the losing London court case against the Kerry Packer takeover.

2 Richard Hadlee v Jeremy Coney I - The Alfa Romeo, 1985-86

Sir Richard always knew his value - hence why just six of 1000 $225 bone china plates depicting his career record remain for sale on hadlee.co.nz. Marble aggregate figurines of his bowling action fetch $1295.

In early 1986 he was awarded 'player of the Australian summer', highlighted by his performances in New Zealand's only away test series win against Australia. Hadlee took more than half the series wickets for his side, including his nine for 52 at the Gabba. Hadlee wanted to keep the Alfa Romeo prize despite the team protocol to share any loot. An airport meeting left the team divided on whether to break tradition. Hadlee offered team-mates a week's holiday at a Lake Taupo time-share as an alternative. Few accepted. John Wright, in his book Christmas In Rarotonga , said: "He'd already [recently] won two cars which put $1800 in each of our pockets, so good luck to him." Contrastingly in The Playing Mantis captain Coney wrote : "Cricket's image was undermined and tainted and the reputation of the team tarred with avarice and jealousy."

3 Richard Hadlee v Jeremy Coney II - Shuttle diplomacy, 1986-87

John Wright said he felt like renowned American diplomat Henry Kissinger delivering requests and instructions from Coney at slip to Hadlee the bowler during the third test against the West Indies in Christchurch. The pair had a falling out after a Hadlee Truth newspaper column criticised the New Zealand team's alleged sloppy practice habits and tardy attitude. Coney believed such remarks should have stayed within the team.

As veteran journalist Don Cameron recalled on cricinfo.com: "Hadlee was not impressed with his short opening spell, so took himself off, and Wright had to pass the information to Coney. But the team recovered from the drama. Hadlee returned to take six for 50 - three of them from Coney slip catches - and the New Zealanders' mood improved, if not completely, by the fact they won the test by five wickets." Wright concluded the pair must have resolved their differences because he couldn't remember telling Hadlee "the captain says 'well bowled"'.

4 Sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll tour, 1994-95

Stephen Fleming, Dion Nash and Matthew Hart admitted smoking marijuana in Paarl, South Africa and were fined. Others who participated - Danny Morrison estimates it at seven in his autobiography Mad As I Wanna Be - got off scot-free. Hart's Mum Dot also rang talkback radio to say more players were involved. Public chatter was rife and the incident drove a wedge into the team culture. In the book Balance Of Power Fleming's biographer Richard Boock wrote of the incident aftermath: "he couldn't just blindly rely on mates any more. There was no longer an unflinching faith in those around him." It wasn't long before Geoff Howarth left as coach despite his contract going until the 1996 World Cup. The fallout lasted months, if not years, until Fleming was ensconced as team captain.

5 West Indies tour mutiny, 1995-96

Glenn Turner was the disciplinarian coach and Chris Cairns and Adam Parore were disaffected players who left the Caribbean tour. Cairns broke down injured ahead of the first test; Parore was unavailable for the second. Cairns played for Nottinghamshire shortly afterwards; Parore said the tour formed part of a "summer of discontent". Chief executive Chris Doig was forced to visit to ascertain what was happening.

Depending on what version you read, Turner's communication was too dictatorial or Cairns and Parore acted like spoilt brats. Regardless, New Zealand lost the one-day and test series; Turner his job.

6 Players strike, 2002

November 11, 2002 - Armistice Day, appropriately enough - saw New Zealand Cricket and the Cricket Players Association reach accord after six weeks of strife. Players sought fair income, ground standards and a future voice in running the game. Administrators wanted an affordable set-up which recognised player needs but wouldn't break the bank or have the tail wagging the dog. Fans wanted some cricket. Debate raged.

Captain Stephen Fleming described it as "an awful, horrible time" where sound working relationships were torn. But it was necessary.

"There was so much pressure, even on the streets; people let you know their opinions in no uncertain terms. It was something a coffee or a phone call couldn't resolve. There also weren't too many cuddles when the agreement was done ... it took time."

- Herald on Sunday

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