Paul Lewis on sport

Paul Lewis is the Herald on Sunday's Sport Editor

Paul Lewis: NZC mess must be punished

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Mike Hesson. Photo / Getty Images
Mike Hesson. Photo / Getty Images

Surely now even the most self-interested of those in New Zealand Cricket must see that heads must roll over the Ross Taylor-Mike Hesson-and-now-Shane Bond saga.

To call this thing a mess is being unfair to messes. Revelations by Tony Veitch on Radio Sport, whereby Bond's damning letter to NZC was published, makes it clear that the sport in this country is in danger of being dragged under - much in the manner of a rescuer going to the aid of a drowning man; pulled to his own death by the force of the victim's struggles.

Bond's letter included words like "sabotage" and "dishonest", referring to the sacking of Taylor as captain and NZC's stance that it was always intended that Taylor remain test captain (though short-form captaincy would shift to Brendon McCullum).

Taylor maintained he was booted out of all three forms of captaincy. Before Bond's letter, it was a he-says-we-say argument. Now there appears to be corroboration from a man with no personal axe to grind.

If Bond is right, it casts doubt on NZC's current ability to manage the game.

There have been some ineffectual squeakings that we should all "move on" (the archetypal, dim-witted Kiwi solution to any difficult issue that demands some thought and action; NZC would say that, wouldn't they?) and that people involved (they mean whoever leaked Bond's letter) should not tear New Zealand cricket apart.

As the old saying goes: "Too late, too late, she cried, as she waved her wooden leg."

Bond's letter is just the latest cutting for NZC, the greatest self-harmer in NZ sport. The timing of the Taylor dumping, the clumsiness, the denials, the apology, board chairman Chris Moller's assertion that no heads would roll and his mystifying "additional material" comment were the other wounds. Why mention it at all if NZC subsequently decided that "additional material" was only "miscommunication and misunderstanding". Sabotage and dishonesty was all a misunderstanding?

Bond's letter has heaped incredulity on top of insult on top of injury. Better to open up and be transparent about it all. Admit failure, recommend action and execute - then move on. Not doing so is what is harming cricket.

The Black Caps look so harassed and beaten, it's as if they were asked to go out and play the world's leading side naked, blindfolded, with one hand tied behind their backs and with their caps on fire.

In the midst of all this, some have written columns taunting Taylor for being a big girl's blouse and running away to suck his thumb and sulk. Again, if Bond was right, it's clear why he did not go to South Africa. One columnist, Richard Boock, must have been mortified to see his column on Taylor (headlined 'The Incredible Sulk') promoted by a pointer that said 'Steven Boock on why Ross Taylor should have hardened up and gone to South Africa'. Stephen Boock, Richard's brother, is the president of NZC.

See? It's an unholy mess all round. The time for guarding each other's backs at NZC has gone. There's an old saying in sport that the on-field enterprise will not go well unless the off-field administration does its job. It's true, too.

The pain of this dreadful stuff-up will not go away unless some of the people who played a role in it do. Trying to cover up an issue by attempting to staunch the bleeding is usually unsuccessful. The blood often trickles out in the worst possible time and place.

It's better to let the man with the scythe go into the NZC offices, not to emerge until the cleaners go in to deal with the walls.

Then and only then, can our cricketers - and they are not immune from criticism either - get back to playing cricket. Instead of being led to the slaughter.

- Herald on Sunday

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