Cricket: Taylor will remain as skipper, says Hesson

By Kris Shannon

New Zealand coach Mike Hesson endured a sleepless night before the first test against India, but there was one decision not keeping him up at night.

Hesson has confirmed he intends to keep Ross Taylor as his skipper for the long term, dousing speculation vice-captain Brendon McCullum was set for an elevation.

"No, there's not," Hesson said when asked about the possibility of Taylor's demotion.

"Ross and I are creating a good relationship, but we're involving a lot of other players as well.

"Ultimately, it makes Ross' job a heck of a lot easier if he's got three or four guys helping him along the way, so that's what we're working on at the moment."

One of those players is certainly McCullum, a senior member of the side who performed admirably as captain when Taylor was restricted by various injuries last summer.

Hesson, who coached the mercurial batsman at Otago, enjoys a close personal relationship with McCullum, and rumours swirled it would be a matter of when and not if a change was made.

But Hesson has tried to put that issue to bed, preferring to focus on the challenge of turning a side with promise into one capable of achieving his stated aim - winning a World Cup.

That challenge began this week in India, a tougher environment in which to start his tenure would be hard to find - although whether it was India away or Zimbabwe at home Hesson would still have felt the nerves of his debut.

When appointed as John Wright's successor last month, he had no qualms about calling the role his dream job. But having tested his coaching ability only in Otago, Argentina and Kenya, drawing up plans to counter Sachin Tendulkar could be overwhelming.

Hesson's players have this week spoken of a change in mood accompanying the changing of the guard.

The coach was careful to downplay his immediate impact, but he explained the amendments to the environment he had made.

"There's not a silver bullet," Hesson said. "We put guys under pressure at trainings and make sure they can perform there."

Said Taylor: "Mike's been great for the group so far.

"He's brought a new energy and there's a bit more of a buzz in the team.

"Any new coach is going to have different philosophies and theories and the team's responding well to that at the moment."

Hesson has put an emphasis on players making their own choices and being individually responsible for the outcomes.

"The key is getting our confidence back. It's a matter of trying to create an environment where people can back their skills rather than havethe fear of getting out," saidHesson.

"We've got plans in place to do well - it's just a matter of executing."

- APNZ

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