Cricket: Tough, resilient McCullum will do outstanding job, says NZC chief

By David Leggat

McCullum, who has never led New Zealand in a test, will become the country's 28th test skipper at Cape Town at the start of next month. Photo / APN
McCullum, who has never led New Zealand in a test, will become the country's 28th test skipper at Cape Town at the start of next month. Photo / APN

Ross Taylor's replacement as New Zealand captain received strong endorsement from New Zealand Cricket yesterday.

Brendon McCullum, appointed as new skipper in all three forms of the game, was told the news late on Thursday night by embattled NZC chief executive David White, who endorsed coach Mike Hesson's recommendation.

"He was delighted," White said. "He felt for Ross Taylor but he's looking forward to the challenge.

"He's a pretty tough, resilient character and I think he'll do an outstanding job."

McCullum will need all of that resilience, so will beleaguered coach Hesson. The handling of the captaincy episode has left a bitter taste in the mouths of Taylor followers and many rank-and-file cricket fans.

Of the meeting in Sri Lanka when the management team told Taylor he would be stripped of the captaincy, Hesson said: "Unfortunately, there's never a good time to deliver news like that."

He regretted if Taylor felt he meant he was questioning the captain's test leadership and denied claims it was a "token gesture" to placate the right-hander, saying test cricket was "not a token gesture".

Despite NZC's disastrous handling of the episode, White insists he won't resign.

"I will not walk away from this job," said the NZC chief, who has been in the position nine months.

He had not been embarrassed by the issue but it was regrettable the matter had been played out in the media.

"That was certainly not the intention."

McCullum, who has never led New Zealand in a test, will become the country's 28th test skipper at Cape Town at the start of next month.

His national team leadership experience extends to eight of his 206 ODIs, and 12 T20s.

However, White was adamant that McCullum - at 31, three years older than the man he's replacing - had no part in Hesson's decision to dump Taylor as short-form captain.

"Brendon has been supportive of Ross since he was made captain 16 months ago.

"Brendon is a quality person, has got integrity and I don't think he can be linked to this in any way," White said.

Taylor's absence from South Africa was "not ideal", White remarked euphemistically.

"We considered several options," White said of the Thursday meeting.

"He thought about it long and hard but said he'd like a break to spend some time with his family."

A source close to Taylor said the player was "crushed" by the process.

White vigorously denied NZC and Hesson, who has been in the job since August, had got the outcome they had long sought.

Hesson's strong Otago links to McCullum have been well publicised.

McCullum's manager, former test captain Stephen Fleming, was on the panel which appointed Hesson, as the New Zealand Players' Association representative. White described Fleming as "an incredibly highly respected cricket person" and denied there was anything inappropriate about Fleming being part of the selection panel.

White sheeted the responsibility for making the call directly at Hesson's feet. White had endorsed Hesson's recommendation.

He characterised it as Hesson's belief that Taylor would be better served by removing the short form responsibilities from him to enable him to focus on test cricket.

The statistics show Taylor's form in both test and ODIs was far better while he was captain, which flies in the face of any suggestion he was over-burdened by the leadership job.

Hesson had Taylor as captain for a tour to India, the world T20 in Sri Lanka, and the recent test series in Sri Lanka. That had been long enough for him to decide it was time for a change.

Asked about Taylor's decision not to go to South Africa, Hesson said: "I'm sure Ross has his reason for not coming. It was a difficult discussion to have. Ross has clearly been affected by that, as anyone would. We're very disappointed, but understand he's made his decision."

The last time he'd spoken to Taylor was Monday, he said. He'd tried phoning him since, but not got through to him.

Perhaps the most telling line Hesson uttered was when he was asked about the impact Taylor's absence would have on the team in South Africa.

They would be "worse off", he said.

- NZ Herald

© Copyright 2014, APN New Zealand Limited

Assembled by: (static) on red akl_n4 at 02 Sep 2014 17:31:51 Processing Time: 15ms