Is NZ Cricket coming right?
Sanity is returning to the ranks of New Zealand Cricket at last. It has been heartening in recent days to learn that chief national selector Kim Littlejohn, board chairman Chris Moller and board members Bill Francis, Sir John Hansen and Therese Walsh are standing down.
Let’s hope the experiment of treating New Zealand Cricket like a business and pretending it has little do with sport is over.
We need cricket people to fill the key roles in New Zealand cricket.
And let’s end the infatuation with Australians.
For the most part, if they were any good, they’d be doing it in Australia.
New Zealand Cricket has had a very poor few years, led by two lacklustre chief executives, Justin Vaughan and the incumbent, David White.
The board has been chaired unconvincingly for three years by Chris Moller.
He shone earlier chairing the New Zealand Rugby board, but has not looked at home in cricket.
His lack of cricket knowledge has been a major problem.
He has also become increasingly tetchy when challenged, never more so than during the infamous Ross Taylor fiasco captaincy last December.
Hansen, Francis and Walsh have all been on the board for several years. Why?
Walsh has specialised in international aid causes such as Save the Children, but how does that help a cricket board?
Hansen is a senior member of the New Zealand judiciary, but again is inexperienced in top-level cricket.
Francis was a brilliant radio man, particularly managing commercial stations, and cut his teeth on sport. I had no problem with him being on the board, provided there were experienced first-class cricketers sitting alongside him. Unfortunately, there weren’t.
Littlejohn, who ran Lawn Bowls Australia for seven years, has been virtually the sole selector of the New Zealand team since 2011, a ludicrous situation. White conceded the other day: ‘‘We’d like someone with more cricket knowledge.’’
He finally confirmed what cricket fans here have been saying for two years.
In recent times, Australians Ashley Ross (high performance, with a penchant for biomechanics) and Mark O’Neill (batting coach) have set the New Zealand team back several notches.
Another Australian, John Buchanan, is still New Zealand Cricket’s director of cricket, on a salary of about $300,000 a year. It would be lovely if he could be sent packing, too, for all the good he’s done, except it’s doubtful New Zealand Cricket could afford the severance bill.
It’s the same at provincial level.
For example, Wellington’s last two coaches have been Australians Anthony Stuart and Jamie Siddons. During their time, Wellington have won nothing. Siddons seems preoccupied with looking for more enticing roles elsewhere, all the while professing his commitment to Wellington cricket.
New Zealand Cricket should acknowledge some truths:
It’s much better if cricket people are involved in running the sport.
Experience of the game at first-class, and preferably test, level is of immense benefit.
Where possible, opt for home-grown administrators, coaches and players. They will really care about our game.
A new-look New Zealand Cricket board is to be named in September.
Hopefully there’ll be plenty of cricket nous on it.
In the meantime, let’s continue weeding out the Aussies and replacing them with knowledgeable home-grown coaches and officials.
Departing: Chris Moller, above, and Kim Littlejohn, right, are leaving New Zealand Cricket.