ANY GIVEN MONDAY
Several on-field fixes are required by New Zealand coach Gary Stead to expunge the horrors of Australia but it might be a more subtle change that will go further to establishing his credentials as Black Caps' coach.
Whether it is rooted in reality or not, there is a creeping belief that Cantabrians have an outsized influence over the Black Caps, concerns that have only increased after recent decisions.
When players start talking about it among themselves – and they are – then perception equals reality.
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Stead, a man about as Canterbury as you can get, would be a fool to brush it off as an irrelevance. The quickest way to lose a dressing room is to make one side of it think that another group has a clearer path to selection.
Even wildly successful teams are delicate ecosystems where rampant ego and crippling insecurity sit side-by-side. In cricket the fragility is increased as individual failure sits starkly, even in times of team triumph.
Two sources told me Stead's selections for the dead-rubber Sydney test went down poorly with a good section of the room he is employed to command.
Some of the changes were forced through illness but it did not go unnoticed that the Northern Districts skipper was replaced by a Cantabrian, while two further ND players were replaced in the playing XI by two Cantabs.
As a selector as well as coach, Stead's titles afford him the luxury to do as he sees fit; it also invites the type of scrutiny he would never have experienced at first-class level.
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There is no suggestion he has acted improperly or without putting what he thought the best interests of the team were first, but I believe the dropping of senior bowler Tim Southee in particular was opportunistic. And in my view, there is no debate that he did a woeful job of explaining it.
When you live within the bubble you can be unaware of the world outside but Stead must know there has been a suspicion about the Canterbury fast-track to the Black Caps, whether as players or coaches, ever since high-performance operations were centralised at Lincoln.
He can't be naïve enough to not realise that with Peter Fulton at his side as batting coach and fellow Cantab Bryan Stronach leading high-performance operations, the Sydney shambles played beautifully into that narrative.
There was a time when you could justifiably call Christchurch the centre of New Zealand's cricketing cosmos.
With the bulk of the country's population and elite cricketing talent residing within the so-called "Golden Triangle" – the points being Auckland, Tauranga and Hamilton – the high-performance centre at Lincoln looks like a relic of an ancient powerbase; the Parthenon without the beauty or heritage status.
A satellite centre will be established at Mt Maunganui's Bay Oval – home of Maersk cargo containers, impossibly bad restaurant service and paralytically drunk teens – but that is a project of little immediate concern to Stead.
He now knows there is more to his job than placing cones and timing net sessions. He might have suspected it but probably only fully understands now that there is a political element to his job.
And there is nothing quite as fraught as dressing-room politics.
The juiciest story of the week has been the cheating scandal surrounding the Houston Astros baseball team.
It is close to the perfect sports story for our times, marrying hubris, technology and a win-at-any-cost mentality.
In case you missed it, the Astros were once a basket-case organisation famous only for losing more than 100 games three seasons in a row.
This however enabled them to draft a number of highly talented players and restock their "farm" system.
The tanking strategy worked. With generational players like Jose Altuve and Alex Bregman coming through the system, and a retooled pitching staff led by Justin Verlander, the Astros have made two of the past three World Series and won the title in 2017.
The journey from laughing stock to MLB darlings was swift and spectacular.
However, 2017 was also the year they have subsequently been found to have cheated their way through by videotaping the catcher's signs to the pitcher, decoding them and relaying the message to the batter.
With an array of off-speed and high-speed pitches, successfully hitting the major league's best throwers is fiendishly difficult (even the very best batter's fail two out of every three times to the plate), but it's a lot easier if you know what's coming.
It has been reported that MLB has known about the accusations of the Astros' cheating for some time but only acted after their former pitcher, Mike Fiers, went public.
The reaction has been severe. The Astros have been fined millions and lost draft picks, and their manager and general manager of baseball were suspended by MLB and then fired by the Astros.
Their former bench coach, Alex Cora, who was fingered as the scheme's architect, was fired by the Boston Red Sox (he had left Houston for Boston in 2018 as manager and won a World Series in his first attempt, throwing suspicion on that title, too).
Carlos Beltran, a former Astros player who was also one of the scheme's big proponents, had been hired by the New York Mets to manage them during the offseason but was subsequently fired without managing a game.
There will likely be more to come.
There is a well-founded rumour that even last year Houston players were wearing devices under their shoulders that buzzed a certain amount of times to indicate what pitch was coming.
There's an undoubted element of Get Smart -type comedy about it but there's also a serious element that can never be rewound, even if MLB goes nuclear and rescinds Houston's title (the indications are they won't).
Pitchers' careers and legacies have already been ruined by the cheating.
Gamblers have spent millions on games that are essentially unfair.
Players who would probably have been great without assistance will always be viewed as cheats.
But after decades of futility, the Astros won their first title … was it worth it?