Honesty and integrity are the best building blocks in establishing a sound policy in any entity, never mind sport.
No doubt, a base line of competence is imperative but in the case of the Black Caps one has to go much deeper than the pain of a colossal collapse in Australia to ascertain what the underlying issues are.
Medieval as it is, any suggestion of bloodletting is too superficial to help restore a sense of wellbeing in the marquee New Zealand men's cricket team.
"Can you write, 'Thank you, Black Caps for ruining the end of last year for me and the beginning of this year?'," a golfing mate, Pete Howe, said to me, well before the Baggy Greens had again humiliated the Black Caps in Sydney for a 3-nil whitewash.
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The diatribe wasn't lost on me because it is, after all, honesty with the volume cranked up.
As New Zealanders collectively line up in their steel-capped boots to kick in the teeth of coach Gary Stead and his weary and wounded warriors, they need to undergo self-appraisal on how realistic their expectations were pre-tour.
For fans and Stead's soldiers, there's the need to comprehend that integrity is telling oneself the truth. Honesty, on the other hand, is trying to convince other people.
Frankly, put Kane Williamson and his troops through a performance metric and you'll be able to count on one hand how many are test savvy.
Ineptness isn't why the majority won't make the cull. It's because they are on a wrong diet.
Remember Jai Taurima? He was the Aussie whose seductive sales pitch to the athletics world was that one could smoke, eat pizza, drink bourbon and still win an Olympic long jumping silver medal in Sydney 2000.
In 2003, the then 31-year-old, who should have been peaking at the time, confessed he had failed in his attempts to jump out of the flash-in-the-pan mould.
Jumping Jai, who was born in Australia but spent his first four years growing up in Nuhaka, didn't just capture the heart of a nation but, globally, pockets of people who wanted to believe in a philosophy of existence that defies logic.
Days before his wedding to fellow long jumper Kerrie Perkins, Taurima had torn a calf muscle at training. He had jumped out of bed one morning, two days later, to reach for the phone only to find he had torn the other.
"I haven't really had the best of luck," he had reportedly said.
That pretty much sums up the New Zealand cricketers' dilemma. Those who rode their luck in Australia aren't really an accurate measure of this country's yardstick in the test arena, any more than the ICC ranking that puts the Black Caps at No 2.
The issue is what diet New Zealand Cricket has brought up its players on in the past decade. The categorical answer is white ball, the fast-food of cricket.
Like Taurima, players answered selectors' SOS. Luck and passion got some through. But, again, the lottery nature is ingrained in a development and selection process that is entrenched in the system.
Until you change a method that rewards a game of chance against oppositions of repute, especially on tour, test wins will remain elusive. At best, New Zealand have become the India of yesteryear — the latter were lions at home and pussycats on tour. Honestly, how many Black Caps, never mind fans, truly believed they were world No 2 when they jetted off to Australia?
The attitude towards red-ball cricket has to change at home first. White-ball fare is inadequate for test bowling loads and eking out runs.
What is more productive? A batsman who can slog a ball out of the park for six or one who threads the ball between fielders and calls for singles and twos.
How do you gauge a bowler's worth? Is it the one who extravagantly claims the most wickets against unrecognised batsmen or is it the wicket-less one whose frugal deliveries put genuine batsmen under such immense pressure they need to switch to a fight or flight mode?
When naming a batting line up, the mantra is the first seven players should be there primarily for scoring runs. The rest are there for a bowling fortitude that treats every ball as an event. Find someone who is consistent in both facets and consider yourselves blessed.
Conversely turning No 7 Colin de Grandhomme into a new-ball bowler smacks of desperation although it would have been acceptable in an ODI or T20 format to unsettle opening batsmen expecting pace.
You see, justifying a bowler's selection because they add value as batsmen, and vice-versa, is neither here nor there.
Poor calling in running singles is a residue of white-ball cricket. The art becomes redundant in the currency of boundaries and sixes. Ditto fielding fumbles.
Look at the domestic arena here and you'll find batsmen and even wicketkeepers who are guilty of ball watching, never mind the former sliding their bat in too deep in cutting the chalk without anticipation of another run from an overthrow. Add to that players persistently parked in front of the stumps to catch balls fielders rifle in that are on course to run out batsmen.
Whose call is it when the ball goes behind the batsman? You could go on.
NZ Cricket needs to plan its domestic cricket around its international demands. It's pointless playing a rash of T20s to near-empty venues when hosting test series. Pick and prepare players at the height of the four-day Plunket Shield campaign rather than the Super Smash.
You see, the integrity of the code isn't hinged on red herrings such as pink balls, 40C climes, warm-up matches on Aussie soil or, for that matter, consulting retired greats of host nations.
It is entrenched in the structures bedded at home. It should be run with a level of honesty that makes it transparent even to the school kids aspiring to become Black Caps or White Ferns.
Prepare wickets that expose internationals to myriad conditions. Ensure the Greg Hays and Jeetan Patels don't slip through the cracks due to hidden agenda.
Call in the likes of Hastings-born retired international Mark Richardson whose childhood mates spent countless hours trying to dismiss him in the backyard of his Havelock North home before he left for Auckland.
The late Mike Shrimpton once told Richardson he wasn't technically sound enough to play for his country. NZ Cricket had never rated the left-hand opener dubbed "Rigor". He proved them wrong, carving four centuries and 19 half tons in 38 tests, averaging 44.8. Some will label him an arrogant TV presenter/commentator. I'd call him an achiever who didn't let others undermine his confidence.
However, the signs are ominous when New Zealand join Australia and England in a bid to turn tests into four-day affairs.
What next? Three or two-day affairs.
India will arrive here this month to preserve their No 1 status but if we bounce them off the park, will we become top dogs?
You can only answer that question if you've asked the umpire for a mark of honesty and integrity on the batting crease of realism.