Cricket: Return to tradition just start of raft of changes

By Andrew Alderson

Dave Currie. Photo / NZ Herald
Dave Currie. Photo / NZ Herald

New Zealand Cricket looks set to return to a more traditional manager once Dave Currie's contract finishes at the end of the World Cup.

It is among a raft of changes facing the national body as they juggle John Wright's appointment as coach with the likely departure of staff such as former performance director Roger Mortimer.

When NZC appoints the new manager, they will keep in mind the sort of person who might best complement Wright. The experiment with Currie as a figurehead who has run Olympic and Commonwealth Games campaigns as chef de mission has not convinced a number of the team.

His appointment has often illustrated the chasm between dealing daily with a specialist team much of the year, versus a team encompassing many disciplines every couple of years.

A number of incidents have contributed towards Currie's fate since he was appointed for the India series just over two years ago. There was the match in Hamilton where - new to the role - he demonstrated a lack of cricketing nous by walking in front of the sightscreen and delaying play.

Later in the year he faced the verbal wrath of Jesse Ryder in the dressing room at the Champion's Trophy in South Africa after trying to reprimand him for smashing a chair after a dismissal. Then, on the way to the World Cup, he failed to address or curtail the Tim Southee passenger liaison issue, resulting in innuendo and rumour.

There was apparently another incident at the Champions Trophy when Currie was discouraging the practice of having a beer in the dressing room after play. Currie used examples like "Rob Waddell didn't do that on the way to winning a gold medal in Sydney."

That resulted in one player telling him in strong language he didn't care if Waddell had rowed to all the way to Sydney and back to get his gold gong, it wasn't going to stop him cracking open a cold one. The Black Caps went on to lose the final to Australia at that tournament.

An avid New Zealand sporting historian, Currie's speech is regularly peppered with references to the likes of Sir Edmund Hillary and other sporting luminaries. Some in the team saw it as name-dropping.

Sources told the Herald on Sunday the role called for a strong, respected individual with cricket knowledge, in the mould of a Jeff Crowe, John Graham or Lindsay Crocker. Because of their status such men can hold the coach and players to account.

Former Black Cap Rod Latham (who played with Wright) and former Canterbury coach Michael Sharpe are touted as contenders. Latham managed the New Zealand A team to Zimbabwe last year and Sharpe covered in Bangladesh when Currie was at the Commonwealth Games.

The roles of assistant coach Trent Woodhill and fitness trainer Bryan Stronach also need addressing. They are contracted until the end of the World Cup but are understood to be considering their options.

The players respect Woodhill - who is also with the Delhi Daredevils in the Indian Premier League - particularly for his batting analysis. He joined the team as performance adviser before the tour to Sri Lanka in August.

Stronach has been described as a "hard bastard" who is tough but someone from whom they are deriving benefit.

The end of the World Cup will almost certainly see a disillusioned Mortimer depart. He has been relegated to organising and planning the programmes for the Black Caps, New Zealand A and the Emerging Players later this year.

- Herald on Sunday

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