Chris Rattue 's Opinion

Chris Rattue is a sports columnist for the New Zealand Herald.

Chris Rattue: Alleged coup sticks in the craw

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Taylor needs to be given more time to mature into the job.

Taylor is not only being prepared for the captaincy chop, but may already have fended off a coup from above, says Chris Rattue. Photo / AP
Taylor is not only being prepared for the captaincy chop, but may already have fended off a coup from above, says Chris Rattue. Photo / AP

Here we go again. New Zealand cricket loves to shuffle captains on the Titanic and now Ross Taylor is about to be pushed overboard, so we are told.

Keeping up with the avalanche of chief executives and coaches is hard enough. Taylor is not only being prepared for the captaincy chop, but may already have fended off a coup from above. The latest in a long line of coaches - Mike Hesson - is reported to have been on his case prior to the victory in Sri Lanka.

In the context of our cricket history, sacking a captain straight after winning a tough overseas test belongs in the sheer lunacy department. We just aren't a cricket powerhouse, and Taylor deserves more time.

There are a few oddities to Taylor's leadership style. For starters, he seems to greet the disappointments with a pre-programmed onwards and upwards response that lacks oomph. But this is an impression, not an indication of what lies within. (One of our best, Stephen Fleming, talked a terrific game but reporters often noted after deciphering the tapes there was little worth reporting).

Taylor appears at times to almost grin if he drops a catch, but once again don't judge a book by the cover. There was also an odd moment in Sri Lanka when having been run out, he directed a series of angry gestures towards the middle as he walked off. The target was his own man, Tim Southee, who may have deserved a diss, but one best served in the dressing room.

I've heard the bowlers don't like his communication style, along with vague references he is not supported by "senior players". What senior players might they be? And for any of those in on a coup, toughen up lads, and check out your own contributions first.

Taylor may not be perfect, but he is doing okay, and can mature further into the 16-month old job. And we have just won a test, fellas. Captaincy ain't the big issue with New Zealand cricket. It's individual ability, application and technique allied to a history of haphazard selections. Fine teams make fine captains - Aussie legend Ricky Ponting was no genius but he had a hell of a side for a while.

Taylor's fate is initially in the hands of Hesson and Kim Littlejohn, a couple of great unknowns who may have already recommended to the board that Taylor is bladed for Brendon McCullum, who has hardly knuckled down fully to test demands.

The New Zealand board needs to back a captain who has just beaten a good Sri Lankan team and also defeated Australia in Tasmania. Taylor has the right to further prove his team has turned a corner and work on his own defects. Remember he was no slouch with the bat in this latest victory scoring more than 200, a third of the team's total. Humiliating him now is not a sensible strategy.

Something about this alleged coup sticks in the craw. Taylor has shown mettle, leading a victory while dealing with this lack of faith. I hope Taylor shows a passion he can't display in public and fights, or has fought, these shady backroom challengers off. If it comes down to Taylor v Hesson, I'd vote Taylor.

McCaw the better player
Dan Carter had a fine year but he did not deserve the player of the year award ahead of Richie McCaw. McCaw, as always, was the major influence in that All Black side. Carter was the culprit in the two big bloopers - he missed a simple drop goal to beat Australia and his awful early penalty misses at Twickenham were central to England finding the confidence to build a superlative victory. Then again, who cares - such awards are to be taken with a grain of salt.

Try finals playoff system
The otherwise-wonderful English premier soccer league has a major fault showing up early this season. Too few teams are in contention for the title and the 2012-13 race involves just the two Manchester stallions. For all of the quality and excitement, many matches are meaningless. There are three possible remedies - more mega-rich club owners, Alex Ferguson's retirement and a finals playoff system. The latter ain't going to happen but the way soccer has evolved, big clubs who also duel it out in the European Cup are too dominant over the long domestic season. In England, the FA Cup is an afterthought, so why not replace it with a finals system based on seedings and home advantage that will make the whole season more meaningful thanks to the possibility of one-off upsets.

Oh baby
And finally ... oh no, a royal pregnancy. Britain used the Olympics to reinvent the royals in a happy-clappy way, even though this institution of privilege represents a class system a lot of us would love to see the back of. No doubt the 2015 Rugby World Cup will be the perfect place to show off the latest royal bludger, ooops blighter.

- NZ Herald

Chris Rattue

Chris Rattue is a sports columnist for the New Zealand Herald.

Chris Rattue writes about a wide range of sports for the New Zealand Herald. He has covered numerous sporting events for the Herald including Rugby World Cups and the 2010 FIFA World Cup.

Read more by Chris Rattue

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