Andrew Alderson

Andrew Alderson is a sport writer for the Herald on Sunday.

Cricket: A throw down position

John Wright.
John Wright.

Following Bob Carter's exit as the New Zealand team's assistant coach, an interim assistant will be taken to the West Indies next month, with a long-term successor to be appointed later.

The Prerequisites

• The ability to strike a professional relationship with Mike Hesson and the management team.

• Sustaining player respect by knowing what it takes to perform in international cricket or, if not, technical nous like that of Martin Crowe's mentor, the late Harold Whitcombe. A Sherlock Holmes' eye for detail, especially regarding video analysis, would be helpful.

• A robust passport and a family situation capable of coping with months away from home.

• 'Bedside manner' - it's all very well knowing your cricket but convincing an out-of-form player of an idea's validity is a precious skill.

• A willing arm for throwdowns.

The Candidates

Craig McMillan

Why? Played international cricket for 10 years, holds a respectable record in all formats and is familiar with the rigours of the modern professional game. Struggled in patches during his own career so is likely to have empathy with charges who suffer likewise.

Why not? Has made a steady transition into the commentary box and other media, where his willingness to proffer forthright opinions is welcomed. If he is contracted to NZC, those opinions will be bound by 'Cabinet responsibility' within the team environment, where critiques tend to be kept in-house.

Availability: "The position does hold interest. I will be mulling it over and discussing it this weekend before deciding whether to throw my hat in the ring."

Gary Stead

Why? 'Steady' by nickname and, sources claim, steady by nature. The five-test opener has coached Canterbury back to the top of New Zealand cricket since taking over from Bob Carter before the 2012-13 season. Last season they won the Plunket Shield, topped the Ford Trophy ladder before losing two semifinals, and lost their HRV Cup semifinal. Coached the New Zealand women's team from July 2008-October 2012.

Why not? Has had only two seasons in charge at Canterbury. Might seek more time to establish a legacy before making a play for the top job should Hesson exit.

Availability: "I'm definitely keen to take a look and to talk to Mike Hesson to see what the role involves. I'm pleased with what I've achieved so far at Canterbury and wouldn't want to put that role in jeopardy."

Mark O'Donnell

Why? A straight shooter and hard worker who secured a raft of titles as Auckland coach. A gold medallist for quotes, he described a 2007 match at Dunedin's University Oval as "an unmitigated cock-up" because of the "disgraceful wicket". Few people can have hit more practice catches in the past 25 years. He is well-connected around the cricket world, coaching for years in South Africa and also in the 2012 and 2013 Indian Premier Leagues.

Why not? His reputation as a passionate grafter stands but might be tainted by previous service as New Zealand assistant coach through the 2009-10 Andy Moles/Roger Mortimer/Daniel Vettori/Mark Greatbatch era.

Availability: "I've been away and haven't looked too much into what's involved but I'd certainly be keen to find out more."

John Wright

Why? Respects Hesson, enjoys cricket's itinerant lifestyle having coached India for five years and, despite a mercurial stint as New Zealand head coach from December 2010 to August 2012, might still have something to offer if he focuses solely on batting.

Why not? Turns 60 in July. Has a great gig coaching Mumbai in the Indian Premier League. Took them to the title last year, his first season in charge. His IPL salary might be better invested travelling around the world without any added responsibility. Has earned the coaching right to run things the way he wants which would be excess to requirements in the current regime.

Availability: Unlikely, given he retired from the head coach role less than two years ago.

Stephen Fleming

Why? Success as an international batsman and captain and an excellent record coaching Chennai in the Indian Premier League means his name will always feature when such roles are mooted. Players will listen. Likely to be capable of working with Hesson too, given he was part of the panel consulted in the former Otago coach's appointment.

Why not? Has toured with international teams for the best part of 20 years so the lustre might have dulled, especially when your family and a cosy man-cave sit waiting in Wellington. Probably more suited to a head coaching role and might be perceived as too close to some players, such as Brendon McCullum.

Availability: Unlikely, with an IPL deal and myriad business interests to keep him occupied already.

- Herald on Sunday

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