By KATHERINE HOBY
Former New Zealand cricket captain Martin Crowe says Maori do not make good cricketers because they struggle to concentrate for a day.
Crowe said many Maori did not have the temperament or patience to play an entire day of cricket, let alone in a test match, which usually lasts five days.
He made the remarks in his regular column on the widely read and influential Wisden website. In his New Year column, Crowe comments on fast bowler Darryl Tuffey, saying he had "a fine match" against the touring Indian side that day [January 1].
The head of Sky cricket coverage goes on to say "Tuffey is a Maori and, traditionally, not many Maori make good cricketers because they don't have the patience or the temperament to play through a whole day, leave alone over a test match".
New Zealand Cricket operations manager John Reid said the comments were not representative of the national organisation.
"I can say I do not agree with that comment," he said.
"And I certainly wouldn't like it seen as representative of New Zealand Cricket. It is most certainly not accurate as that."
Mr Reid said Maori and Pacific Island players were not well represented at a senior level in the sport.
"We're not surprised by that though," he said.
"Cricket is still perceived by many as a white middle-class game. And if you look at many other sports in New Zealand, Maori and Pacific Islanders make a strong contribution in comparison."
It was pleasing to see some players with Maori heritage in New Zealand teams - Tuffey and former wicketkeeper Adam Parore.
While NZ Cricket was looking to target some programmes to encourage more Maori and Pacific Islanders to get involved in the sport - a draft plan includes provision to develop such strategies - "we're not going overboard".
"If people choose to play the game, they choose to play the game."
Parore, the first Maori to play for New Zealand, said he was not offended by the comments as they were "one man's opinion".
"I wouldn't say it's an indisputable fact though."
Maori and Pacific Island men had traditionally been attracted to more physical sports, such as rugby union and rugby league.
"They seem to be more naturally attracted to the physicality of league and union. They are attracted to something that gives them more bang for their buck, you could say."
He said Crowe's point might have been that players from Pacific Island and Maori backgrounds were "quite a significant untapped resource".
Parore said that in general young Maori men were more laid-back, more relaxed, and sometimes less ambitious in a single-minded fashion than their European counterparts.
Crowe's columns have made headlines before. He and Indian cricket captain Sourav Ganguly pulled no punches in a public spat.
Across the Tasman, Australian test batsman Darren Lehmann is at the centre of a storm over his racial slurs during a one-day match against Sri Lanka on Wednesday. He will face an International Cricket Council disciplinary hearing today.
By KATHERINE HOBY