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September 12, 2013

Boardroom games

Paul Ford
Martin Snedden: returns as a sports administrative hero  © Getty Images
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You know it is the in-between-cricket-seasons wasteland when stories like Henry Olonga apologising in his book for breaking Greg Loveridge's finger in 1996 make the newspaper. The book was published in 2010!

I know Olonga is a complete cricketing legend as the first black player to don the Zimbabwe strip, and for his brave political stands. Even complete cricket legends have grumpy days, though.

One was at the Basin Reserve in the ill-fated Boxing Day Test match in 2000. It was a day when as an African fast bowler you would certainly wish you weren't in Wellington. After Olonga brought up his century of runs conceded - mostly to stock car driver Nathan Astle and diabetic Craig McMillan - we politely clapped him back to third man. We'd driven down from Hamilton and listened to the batting carnage the previous day as we chugged around Lake Taupo and through the Manawatu Plains down to the capital.

Henry pointed out that he hadn't seen us out there globetrotting the international cricket circuit, and checked how many Test wickets we had to our names. He didn't much like it when we pointed out we didn't have any but that we were entirely capable of taking none for 100 like he'd done that day.

Elsewhere in the Kiwi cricketing void between now and the start of the Chittagong Test next month, candidates for the new directors for the New Zealand Cricket board have been lined up. There are a couple of interesting names who have thrown their caps into the ring and the votes will be cast later next week.

One is Martin Snedden. A battling medium-pacer with an idiosyncratic twirling bowling action who metamorphosed into an excellent cricket administrator, Snedden is now a national hero of sorts after his work in the successful 2011 rugby World Cup.

An adept sporting politician, Snedden admirably refused to be drawn into the Parker Posse's quagmire of clandestine email campaigns and shrill whingeing. When the shambolic fracas erupted, he was a voice of common sense and reason: "What we don't need is for this situation to turn quite nasty. It doesn't help with decision-making and it doesn't help the game. To turn it into a personal crusade is not right. There is nothing further to be gained."

It will be interesting for New Zealand Cricket CEO David White to have Sneds looking over his shoulder and poring over his actions and strategies (and emails). To have on the board a bloke who has been doing your job relatively recently - Snedden sidestepped to footy in May 2007 - and who is now regarded as a hero of sports administration is potentially intimidating. I guess from White's perspective it is better to have the wily lawyer in the clubhouse than not.

The other one who caught my eye was World Cup phenomenon Geoff Allott, the man who scored the greatest duck in Test history, all 101 minutes of it. Allott was the general manager of New Zealand Cricket for two years, responsible for "cricket operations and coaching, management and selection of the New Zealand side". From all accounts a top bloke, Allott fell on his sword after New Zealand were embarrassingly flogged 4-0 by Bangladesh in an ODI series in 2010. The nadir, even for New Zealand.

Despite protestations from New Zealand Cricket that the Bangladesh result and Allott's resignation were coincidental and unrelated, he became the scapegoat for the humiliation.

Confusion reigned about the reasons for his departure and Allott himself didn't seem quite sure, saying at the time in classic PR spin: "I believe our elite athletes and teams need a combination of the best available high performance expertise and the knowledge of cricket experts who understand the technical aspects of the game. On that basis the high performance structure that I consider is best for cricket's future would be different to the current structure and with a different allocation of resources. I have effectively restructured myself out of a job, but I truly believe this to be in the best interests of cricket." Eh?

Let's hope Allott is able to speak his mind more articulately, unencumbered by spin doctor prescriptions, when he hits the New Zealand Cricket boardroom.

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Paul Ford is a co-founder of the Beige Brigade. He tweets here

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Keywords: Administration

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by hokeypokey on (September 14, 2013, 19:59 GMT)

You are so right paul.It will be interesting with a successful administrator and a past nzc ceo overlooking every move of a perceived damaged mr white..I guess it will all depend on if mr snedden can stand the past stench that was never aired out in that club house..

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Paul Ford
Paul Ford (aka Paul Holden) is a co-founder of the beloved Beige Brigade, the patriotic and long suffering Kiwi supporters' cult that is a bastion of things brown, tan, tongue-in-cheek and tenuously cricket-related. Paul lives in Wellington, somewhere between the Basin Reserve and Karori Park, and his favourite shot is the front-foot pull. @beigebrigade

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