Dylan Cleaver on sport
Sport analysis and comment from Dylan Cleaver

Midweek Fixture: Short history of long history of Taylor-Hesson divide

By Dylan Cleaver

Mike Hesson and Ross Taylor. Photo / Photosport
Mike Hesson and Ross Taylor. Photo / Photosport

The short history of Ross Taylor's dropping from the New Zealand T20 side would be uncomplicated, were it not set against the long history of antipathy towards the coach by the former captain.

So, instead, a relatively simple issue of omission is turned into a three-act operatic production.

Or perhaps it's less drama and more physics - any action by one that affects the other will cause an equal reaction.

Taylor is dropped + Taylor reacts = Taylor is probably further from the T20 squad than he was before.

All this is a little awkward, when one of the parties is the coach and selector, and the other is an indispensable part of the Black Caps batting lineup ... well, as it turns out, indispensable in the test and one-day formats.

Taylor and Hesson have learned to co-exist since the warring days of 2012, but it's always come across as a fragile sort of peace.

From talking to those close to both parties, it is clear Taylor will never fully trust Hesson and although the coach plays his cards a lot closer to his chest, it is equally clear he believes Taylor is used as a cause celebre by those seeking to undermine the team.

This awkward dance is set to continue for a few years yet.

In terms of the T20 question, it is both basic and unanswerable.

Taylor wants to play. His record throughout his career suggests he should play.

Not only does he miss out on the fee that comes with playing T20s, but he also is effectively removed from the shop window that leads to more lucrative gigs in franchise cricket.

Adding to that, you cannot convince me that there exists a single international bowler who would stand at the top of his run-up in a T20 and would think, "Geez, I'm glad I'm bowling to Rossco here and not Tom Bruce".

So, in that regard, Taylor is right to feel aggrieved, and right to seek clarification and updated assessments of his status within that format.

And yet ...

It is Hesson's team. He was employed to coach and he was employed to select, and any challenge to that authority, especially from within, should be treated with calculated disdain.

His job, he would argue, is to not just to think of today, but tomorrow. He has to give the next tier of guys - the Bruces, the Colin Munros and the Ben Wheelers - games somehow and T20Is are the most logical place to do that.

It is clearly the soon-to-be-33-year-old Taylor's weakest format, so there is logic to replacing him and saving him for the more prestigious, if less moneyed, formats.

Hesson is human, but has long since stopped worrying about his image. He absorbed the arrows of 2012, and has moved on to be come a long-tenured and successful coach of New Zealand, arguably the most successful.

Taylor, I believe, is more sensitive to public perception and plays the PR game well.

This, however, might be a battle he needs to rethink.

***

At some point in this short shuffle through the cosmos, you'll probably ponder the question: "How will I be remembered?"

It might be a fleeting thought or something closer to an ongoing existential crisis.

For those with a high profile, it is often the media who will shape the memories. This can be fraught.

I write this, not only in respect to Sione Lauaki, but to Jerry Collins, Martin Crowe and Jonah Lomu before him, and any number of sports stars that die too young.

How should we farewell them? With honesty and pathos, or should we skip the first bit?

The first obituary I was asked to write as a neophyte sports journalist was for Ces Blazey, the former chairman of the New Zealand Rugby Football Union.

In this obit, I thought it would be remiss not to mention the 1981 Springbok tour and approached long-time human rights activist John Minto for a tribute. It was, predictably, uncharitable.

Judging by the message left on my phone (landlines in those days, how quaint) by somebody closely associated with Blazey, they were far from impressed with my attempts to balance his legacy.

So it was with Collins. The All Black powerhouse died in a tragic accident in 2015 and there was an outpouring of grief.

Truth be told, Collins had endured a few calamitous years, following the abrupt end of his international career, but a lot of people didn't want that truth to be told.

What they wanted was an airbrushed account - a photoshopped version of journalism, where the warts are removed, and all you're left with is a beatific smile and a shimmering halo.

Sorry, leave that for the eulogies, not the obituaries.

If Keith Richards beats me to the end of this mortal coil, I don't just want to read that he was influenced by the delta blues and came up with the riff for (I Can't Get No) Satisfaction in his sleep. I want the full story, including his prodigious appetite for illicit substances and his central role in some of the worst post-1981 albums ever recorded.

The human condition is fascinating. Death is, ironically, a chance to celebrate it - the good, the bad and the in-between.

THE WEEK IN MEDIA ...

A fantastic story on the last days of female wrestler Chyna, from Vice.

I rapidly tired of Twitter to the point where I genuinely can't remember the last time I tweeted, though I suspect it was pithy and added very little to any realm of understanding. The fact a media organisation can fire a man for tweeting anti-Trump thoughts does not make me inclined to re-engage.

- NZ Herald

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