Black Caps coach Gary Stead has responded to criticism of his break from coaching duties during the ODI series against India, saying he was surprised by the vitriol his absence produced.

Stead missed the 3-0 ODI series victory over India in order to take a planned break to manage his workload during a busy year for the Black Caps, but that decision – as well as the poor timing and communication of it – caused a firestorm.

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Former Black Cap and current Radio Sport commentator Jeremy Coney was one of the most vocal critics of Stead's brief holiday, calling it "ridiculous" and suggesting that if his workload was too much, he could "go and get a job in a hardware store".

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But when quizzed on Coney's comments in his first interview since the break was revealed, Stead brushed it aside.

"Everyone's entitled to their opinion. What Jeremy Coney says about me doesn't necessarily have relevance to the way we go about things," Stead responded.

"It was good to have time with the family, I had four to five days off and I've been back at work planning for this test series now."

Stead is back in charge for the two tests against India, starting on Friday, and acknowledged he didn't expect his time off to be quite so controversial.

"I was really surprised. New Zealand Cricket and I have talked about this for a long time, looking after our staff and our players. We did that, and I know New Zealand Cricket are doing what we think is right for us as people."

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After the Black Caps were swept 5-0 by India in the Twenty20 series, bowling coach Shane Jurgensen successfully deputised for the ODI series, and Stead was delighted with how the side bounced back.

"I was really pleased with the way Shane and the team went about their business, they played with confidence – it was great to see."

Now, a different challenge – the most difficult of them all – awaits, with India having won their last seven tests, all by massive margins.

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Stead hopes any potential dramas have been quelled, and that his side can be at their best when going up against the world No 1 test side.

"They're distractions that don't need to be there, but we have to move on and look ahead to the India test series.

"This is as good as we're going to face out there – they're going to be a heck of a team to play against."