Great coach left the lime­light to play­ers

Weekend Herald - - Viewpoints -

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.

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