Richard­son’s crit­i­cism off the mark

SPORTS TALK WITH JOSEPH ROMANOS

Auckland City Harbour News - - SPORT -

Ra­dio Sport pre­sen­ter and for- mer test crick­eter Mark Richard­son stunned me the other day with his con­tri­bu­tion to the Bruce Edgar af­fair.

Edgar has been treated like a piece of dirt by New Zealand Cricket and is no longer a na­tional se­lec­tor.

Richard­son en­light­ened his au­di­ence by com­ment­ing that Edgar had a his­tory of spit­ting the dummy.

Some New Zealand sports fol­low­ers might think Richard­son knows what he’s talk­ing about, and wouldn’t make such a com­ment lightly.

In fact, it would be dif­fi­cult to find a per­son who less de­serves such crit­i­cism than Edgar.

Richard­son jus­ti­fied his com­ment by say­ing Edgar had re­tired early.

Edgar re­tired from in­ter­na­tional cricket at 30, hav­ing rep­re­sented New Zealand for nine years. He played in an am­a­teur era and turned his at­ten­tion to mak­ing a living for his fam­ily.

At school

Edgar

was

a bril­liant bats­man, a blaz­ing stroke­maker. Those who saw him then re­gret­ted he never showed that side of his game more of­ten in the test arena.

In­stead he be­came an open­ing bats­man, given the job of blunt­ing op­pos­ing at­tacks so stroke­mak­ers such as Martin Crowe could pros­per.

Edgar faced Im­ran Khan, Ian Botham, Bob Wil­lis, Andy Roberts, Michael Hold­ing, Colin Croft, Joel Gar­ner, Jeff Thom­son, Den­nis Lillee, Craig McDer­mott and Kapil Dev sea­son af­ter sea­son, bat­ting bravely and pro­duc­tively.

He al­ways put the team first, de­spite ques­tion­able treat­ment.

On the 1984 tour of Sri Lanka, he was dropped from the test lineup.

Sri Lanka were weak then and New Zealand cap­tain Ge­off Howarth must have fan­cied their bowlers, so he opened and Edgar was out.

Edgar was re­in­stated when the op­po­si­tion again in­cluded faster bowlers.

The team as­pect was vi­tal to Edgar, and he took ex­cep­tion to Richard Hadlee keep­ing the prize for player of the se­ries – a car – one time in Australia.

The agree­ment had been that the team shared its win­nings, and Edgar was of­fended one player, no mat­ter how good, would put him­self above the team.

Af­ter a suc­cess­ful busi­ness ca­reer, Edgar ap­plied for the New Zealand Cricket chief ex­ec­u­tive role, but the job went to David White.

You can make your own judg­ments about that de­ci­sion.

He then got a part-time role as a New Zealand se­lec­tor and by all ac­counts was su­perb, pick­ing con­sis­tently and wisely, and deal­ing well with the play­ers.

He must get some credit for New Zealand’s good run in the World Cup last sum­mer.

The play­ers ap­pre­ci­ated his in­put, as did New Zealand coach Mike Hes­son.

It seems he was treated shab­bily, hav­ing to beg and bor­row to get tick­ets for big matches, and learn­ing his pres­ence was not re­quired or even en­cour­aged for tests.

His im­me­di­ate boss was Lind­say Crocker, and they had long-run­ning prob­lems.

Crocker seemed to play a pri­vate power game, un­nec­es­sary when deal­ing with some­one of Edgar’s stand­ing and in­tegrity.

I won­der where White and the New Zealand Cricket board fit­ted in.

Did White con­done Edgar’s treat­ment? Did the test crick­eters on the board – Ge­off Al­lott, Martin Sned­den, Richard Hadlee, and pres­i­dent Stephen Boock – know about it?

If they did, shame on them. If they didn’t, there should be se­ri­ous ques­tions asked.

We end up with Crocker and lose Edgar, not a good trade-off in my book, de­spite what Mark Richard­son might think.

Eloise Black­well, left, is knocked over by the de­fence. Fil­lies’ Theresa Fitz­patrick charges into Ard­more’s Jon­sal Tau­tari.

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