Great coach left the limelight to players
The sudden retirement of the national cricket coach, Mike Hesson, is a reminder of how remarkably good he has been. The casual cricket enthusiast has no need to check Hesson’s record to know the Black Caps have had sustained periods of success under him such as New Zealand teams seldom enjoy.
Through it all Hesson has never put himself centre stage. Though always forthcoming when interviewed, usually cheerful and always worth hearing, he always left the limelight to his players. And he produced some very goods ones, not least his chosen captains, Brendon McCullum and later Kane Williamson.
It seems much longer than six years since he appointed McCullum at the expense of Ross Taylor, a contentious call for any coach to make at the start of his tenure. But Hesson knew what he wanted and it paid off. McCullum put his daring, unorthodox stamp on the team.
To fans long accustomed to inconsistent performances from our national teams, the Hesson era showed us we can play this game. Hesson’s teams have not had standouts of the stature of the Hadlees and Crowes of the 1980s but his teams have appeared more cohesive and have won a greater number of tests and one-day internationals.
Cricket teams are almost constantly on tour. It must be the most taxing of sports on family time. Hesson’s departure is sudden but well timed, giving the next new coach a year to prepare for the World Cup with a team Hesson has moulded well.