The Parker Posse poser
I've always liked John Parker - that magnificent shock of albino white hair, his penchant for baggy caps, occasionally hilarious cricket commentary efforts, close proximity to the iconic Michael Holding stump-kicking moment, and recent efforts to get a cricket ground built in rural Kaipaki (population: 909).
He was also one of the few cricket aficionados who wasn't too cool to ignore me when I contacted a smorgasbord of people for my fifth-form project entitled Can the Young Guns Win the Cricket World Cup?
But this week I really wondered what the hell JP was up to, when he delivered the contents of a dossier accumulated from "The Parker Posse", a 40-strong group comprising Ian Smith, Mark Greatbatch and an amorphous and anonymous collection of "former Test captains, coaches, players, cricketing governance people and others who have been part of or close to the inner operations of the New Zealand Black Caps over the recent past".
And when I say delivered, I mean Mr Parker talked about it in chunks in a patsy radio interview with a talkback shock jock best known for his relentless criticism of New Zealand cricket and having his lights punched out by Jesse Ryder in July. Parker declined interviews with TV1 and TV3 on Thursday night.
The interview has Parker discussing the concerns of the group as set out in a not-yet-public document, which aims its fire at New Zealand Cricket's governance and the current NZ team culture, as well as wading back into the calamitous sacking of Ross Taylor as captain late last year.
The Parker dossier is touted as some sort of font of truth. But it is hard to give it much credibility when it arrived in such bizarre fashion, and almost entirely beneath a veil of anonymity. The dossier conveniently explains the reasons for this veil, in a somewhat muddled fashion: "as it is the facts of the matter, and an accurate history of what has happened, not the names of the people involved as there is a risk they would become the focus rather than the process."
For a document that reportedly plays the man not the ball in a variety of different places - variously taking aim at David White, Chris Moller, Heath Mills, Mike Hesson, Daniel Vettori, Jacob Oram, and most memorably Brendon McCullum - this excuse for a lack of names rings hollow.
So we have to do our own digging. Smith and Greatbatch have 'fessed up, and rumours abound that the Parker garrison also includes wordsmith Jeremy Coney, NZC talent scout Glenn Turner, eccentric legend Martin Crowe, city councillor John Morrison, and even a wildcard name like cricket commentator Bryan Waddle.
It seems very strange that blokes like this have, apparently, affiliated themselves with such a murky, clandestine exercise. Many are high profile, opinionated people in the New Zealand game and, if they have endorsed this report, they should put their hands up and explain their positions for themselves. Do they really stand by the words in the nine-page epistle - a document that seems like it might have been slapped together by the Beige Brigade at the pub on a Saturday afternoon after 85 overs in the field and a few pints?
Speaking of pints, there is a sprinkling of hypocrisy about a bunch of 1970s and 1980s cricketers having a crack at the players of today about a drinking culture. I think we can safely say that the contemporary cricketing environment is much more professional than it was back then, albeit with some exceptions in each era.
There is also an awkwardly ironic passage in a cobwebbed old corner of the interweb, brochuring Parker's consultancy services. It includes this reference:
I first met John Parker in the mid 1970s. I was a promising young cricketer from Gisborne and he was a successful international cricketer. We instantly developed a rapport and have had a strong relationship to this day.
John was my mentor during my fifteen years of first-class cricket. He not only had an outstanding technical knowledge of the game but also had a rare ability to assess and assist in the psychological aspects of the game.
John was one of the main reasons I managed to have a moderately successful first-class career and was able to represent my country.
My greatest success as a cricketer, I believe, was as a captain … John Parker was my sounding board from a technical, tactical and leadership perspective. We developed a very successful winning formula.
That relationship has now transferred to the business world … John Parker has continued to be my mentor. John is my independent sounding board on all issues relating to the organisation. John's own experiences and knowledge developed over a number of years, has given me direction and confidence.
The author? David White, then CEO of the Auckland Rugby Football Union. It's sad this relationship has deteriorated so badly that the mentor and his apprentice are now engaged in an extremely public slanging match.
I'm no apologist for New Zealand Cricket - some of White's media appearances make me want to gnaw my arm and I thought the whole Ross Taylor kerfuffle was dealt with atrociously. I also reckon a blow-by-blow investigation and transcript of exactly what took place in that infamous hotel room in Galle would be pretty useful. NZC has to accept that the absence of this information has created a vacuum into which the Parker dossier has been tossed.
But the Posse shouldn't have been lured into doing so.
It has mixed its drinks here: if its raison d'être is to agitate for a governance overhaul at NZC and inject some ex-player nous on to the board then that is a worthy objective. It is boring stuff, and that process is underway with the constitutional review winding into action at NZC headquarters. The national body has already admitted there may be a better way, and that it's braced for change.
But by wading into the messy captaincy debate via a sloppy report, one bereft of attributions or endorsement from anyone other than Parker and one or two others, bursting with opinion and conjecture, the Posse has undermined its purpose this week.
It's not a great way to demonstrate a decent governance alternative for Kiwi cricket. It's tiresome, selfish, and frustrating for everyone outside the Parker group. An approach hallmarked by bitterness, personal attacks, preferential interviews, unsubstantiated claims, and obfuscation of names behind words does not bode well for a brave new world of cricketing administration in NZ. It sounds like a warm cup of the same ol', same ol' situation to me.
Lance Cairns, the human Excalibur himself, had it right on the telly this week: "Quite frankly I think everybody's sick of it. There's a big tour coming up to England and let's say right-oh, this is it, let's get on with the cricket, and just drop all this nonsense."
Paul Ford is a co-founder of the Beige Brigade. He tweets here