December 3, 2008

The enemy within

New Zealand cricket has been reduced to its present low state chiefly by a lack of cohesion
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Bracewell: "too wild for the position" © Getty Images

New Zealand cricket is at low ebb. Although it may not return to the desperate days of the last century - when individual deeds were celebrated in the absence of any hope of victory, a period when Australia deigned to play them once in 30 years - the nation's cricket community is struggling. Curiously it has been reduced not by bad administration or a lack of resources or even formidable rivalry from the muddied oafs but rather by its own want of cohesion. New Zealand's cricket has failed to unite behind the common cause. Over the years it has had more splinter groups than a Maoist party. Until New Zealand cricket works with a single mind it will not climb the rankings. Adopting the old adage, they will either hang together or separately.

Next week New Zealand starts a home series with West Indies, an equally fractured outfit suffering from all manner of malaises. West Indies has plenty of talent but not the sense of service or the work ethic required to reach the top. Instead, present players wander around in a state of miserable bliss whilst yesterday's champions fill their pockets with loot. CLR James and Frank Worrell must look down on both parties with disdain. The highest achievement possible for this team is to climb to seventh in the rankings. Probably it will be too much like hard work. A lot of easy money can be made from Stanford and other 20-over formations.

Accordingly the Kiwis could retain seventh spot on the log, but it'd be a mistake to let a few bright days blur the picture. New Zealand cricket is in decline and an enormous effort will be needed to bring about a revival. Demoralisation is not far away, with aging players hurrying to cash in their chips and write point-scoring books, and callow youths suffering seasons of failure and taking scars into adulthood. New Zealand's most talented cricketers tend to start and finish too early - a luxury a small nation can ill afford.

The team must not be allowed to slide any further. Over the last 25 years New Zealand has been a respected, resolute, intelligent outfit. In those years it has produced several superb cricketers and fielded a number of highly regarded sides. Often the players were caricatured as a craggy lot, inclined to chew gum and frustrate opponents, but they played a hard game and never gave up. Now and then a champion emerged - Richard Hadlee, Glenn Turner, Martin Crowe and, almost, Chris Cairns, but mostly the Kiwis lived on their wits. As a rule the sides were a distinctive mixture of dedicated professional and maverick. Always the characters - blockers or dashers, drinkers or thinkers, were writ large.

As far as bowling was concerned, they kept a niggardly length, and with a few notable exceptions were as menacing as a jam sandwich. Dibbly dobblies were the main fare on offer, inviting deliveries that meandered towards the other end with the sort of wan smile that has such a powerful effect upon red-blooded batsmen. Ewen Chatfield, Willie Watson and Martin Snedden were canny, unflagging fast-mediums capable of pinning down even the most commanding players. Gavin Larsen, Jeremy Coney and Bev Congdon teased opponents with their lack of pace. On damp tracks with slow bounce, they were a handful. Elsewhere they had the brains and cheek needed to upset batsmen.

As far as batting was concerned, New Zealand famously put a high price on their wickets. Now and then fieldsmen felt obliged to enquire whether a Kiwi batsman had breathed his last. John Parker, Mark Richardson, Bruce Edgar and Bev Congdon could be included in the honourable role of sticks in the mud whose obdurate defences blunted many a sharp attack. Although seldom the prettiest to watch, these rugged practitioners put runs on the board. It is hard to imagine them batting as loosely as did their successors down under recently, when wickets were thrown away like hats at Armistice. Indeed the only encouraging sign to emerge for the second Test match was the witty blog posted by Iain O'Brien, an honest seamer with a self-effacing sense of humour.

 
 
New Zealand cricket lacks the powerful idea that scorns pettiness. In a small nation particularly, it is possible to want too much. It is also hard to avoid backbiting
 

New Zealand has an identity and a strong history. Unfortunately it also has an ability to lose focus. All sorts of arguments can break out, between north and south, rural and urban, past and present, critic and player, coach and captain; and most are publicly aired. Perhaps it is because the pool of talent is not deep enough to prevent heads swelling or differences growing. New Zealand rugby is bound together by the idea of the All Blacks and their haka. Everything else shrivels besides this great tradition. New Zealand cricket lacks the powerful idea that scorns pettiness. And even the All Blacks can lose their way at the critical moments. In a small nation particularly, it is possible to want too much. It is also hard to avoid backbiting.

It was not so much the defeat in Australia that told the tale as the nature of the defeat. Not long before, New Zealand was hard pressed to beat Bangladesh. Had Daniel Vettori switched sides, the weak Bangladeshis might have won. Simply, New Zealand lacked resolution and technique. The bowling was presentable - the pacemen persevered and the captain dropped his spinners on a length - but the batting was woeful. It was astonishing to see so many batsmen caught in the covers. The Australians were grateful. After all, they had a few troubles of their own.

New Zealand needs to form a strong group of elders dedicated to the task of restoring the national cricket team. So many mistakes have been made. The appointment of John Bracewell was chief among them. Determined to impose himself but lacking the skills required to guide players of different ages and dispositions, he broke up the team and drove players away before their time was up. The last thing an experienced side needs is an avid controller at the helm. As a result of the various upsets, Stephen Fleming and others walked away prematurely. Australians can dump players of that calibre once signs of deterioration have been detected. Not that it is easy to persuade veterans to retain fitness, ambition and devotion once they start to drift. Apart from anything else the temptations of the ICL and the IPL have a strong appeal to cricketers nearing retirement, whose wages have been relatively modest. All the more reason to make them feel appreciated.

At least Bracewell wanted the job. New Zealand and West Indies cricket suffer from a plethora of past players aware that they can make a better and easier living as observers of the game. Rather than fighting this fact the Kiwis may need to recognise it. After all, Allan Border and Mark Taylor work for TV companies while also serving as directors of Cricket Australia. Merv Hughes combines his duties as a selector with leading tour parties and speaking at lots of functions. CA takes the pragmatic view that conflicts of interest of this sort cannot be avoided if one is to not waste a vast amount of cricketing knowledge.



Fleming left too early. New Zealand needs to make its senior players feel more wanted © Getty Images

New Zealand's most obvious mistake in recent times was backing down over Shane Bond. Apparently, the country's fastest bowler had obtained clearance from his board to play ICL. Reassured that his international career was not imperilled by signing, Bond put his moniker on the dotted line. But the BCCI insisted that ICL players must be outlawed, and NZ Cricket caved in. Of course, the financial stakes were high but NZ Cricket had given its word. It ought rather to have cancelled the game for a year than backed down in the face of intimidation. Instead they sent a message to all players: Look after yourselves.

At least officials stood firm on the appointment of a new coach. Various candidates wanted to be able to withdraw for a bit to take up lucrative 20-over contracts with franchises in India. No such license was given. New Zealand needs to keep thinking along those lines. Coaching a national team is an important position and not to be bestowed upon the distracted.

Above all, New Zealand cricket needs to recover its strength of mind. Bracewell's departure will help, for he was too wild for the position. But he was not to blame for the weak batting in Adelaide or the fact that too many capable players have too easily swapped New Zealand's silver for the gold available on the subcontinent. A powerful plan must be put in place, with intelligent leadership, improving facilities, and pride taken in every victory. New Zealand cricket needs to be happy.

Over the years New Zealand's cricketers often overperformed. Under astute captains like Coney or Stephen Fleming, or when a touch of greatness was added to a canny outfit, they were hard to beat. Had the team not so foolishly refused to play in Kenya, they might have won the 2003 World Cup. But the self-destructive streak was never far away.

Above all, New Zealand prospers when the entire community gets behind the captain and his team. Anything else is an indulgence.

Peter Roebuck is a former captain of Somerset and the author, most recently, of In It to Win It

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • POSTED BY jamesflett on | December 6, 2008, 0:00 GMT

    Many of you make very good comments, and if I had the time I would have my say on every point that has been raised, however I will refrain to one: selection methods and management. 1: Talent is NOT an issue in NZ - we have very good pool of talented players given our population. Selection processes IS an issue. It was mentioned Papps averaged over 100 a couple of seasons ago - and was rightly selected, however by the time the NZ first class season had finished, NZ didnt play test cricket for 5 months. You cannot expect the same form 5months between drinks. Essentially, the people associated with selection obviously do not take into account WHEN to select people and when to not. There appears to be many Blackcaps fans with some good ideas on management and selection... maybe we should all get together as a coup to smash NZ cricket back into shape!

  • POSTED BY Gfree on | December 5, 2008, 9:08 GMT

    As for Martin.

    If I were boss, I'd fire any selector who even broached the subject of selecting the opening bowler based on his batting average.

    Come on!

    Hes honest, hard working, and he turns up and bowls. Thats it. Thats his job. Hes played a role far outside of his ability to the best able to him (that of attack spearhead). Franklin will surely be back in the team soon, but he has been out long term due to injury. Mills, yeah sure hes alright, but hardly any scarier than Martin. O'Brien's putting in a good showing as well. Southee is impressive with both bat and ball. And with Spin bowling in good steed we have good bowling resources which is great to see. Competition for their places based on their bowling has got to be good for all.

    But rest assured, our test team will not become winners because we pick a bowler who is a better batsman than Chris Martin.

    However, our Team might start doing better if we pick batsmen who are better batsmen than Chris Martin...

  • POSTED BY Gfree on | December 5, 2008, 8:56 GMT

    Rubbish.

    We do not need to play a team in Australia's Domestic Competition. We have the money, we have the setup, and we have world class one day players

    Take a look at "the numbers game" In the 1980's we had a good test record, much better than Aussie. Did Australia consider playing a team in our domestic competition then?

    We are useless currently in test cricket. Our batsmen bat for 50 overs max, combined. We can get 270 if we are lucky on a great pitch. But hold on a minute...

    Prior to the last world cup, NZC spent the build up YEAR concentrating on ODI's. We did pretty good, and looked dominant until the last two games.

    We just beat England home and away in 2 5 match one day series. And every kiwi remembers the 3 match drubbing of Aussie a couple of years ago.

    Our test team is crap because we no longer play 3 match test series and have maybe one warm up match.

    Our one day team is pretty damm good.

    They are pretty much the same players. Hmmm... practice makes perfect??

  • POSTED BY StJohn on | December 4, 2008, 16:01 GMT

    NZ domestic teams playing in the Sheffield Shield sounds like a great idea to boost standards & competitiveness & the rivalry between Australia & NZ would add spice to that mix. I read of an identical idea for improving standards in Bangladesh - that Bangladeshi domestic teams should play in the Indian domestic tournaments. All great ideas, but it would be really interesting to know: is anything being done to actively consider or implement these ideas? It's a pity when good, constructive ideas like these are simply left floating in the ether. Perhaps Cricinfo & the journalists who write these articles could answer that and perhaps we could even have a Cricinfo survey or petition about it, to be sent to the relevant national boards? For all the criticism of the Stanford Super Series, I really liked the Middlesex v Trinidad & Tobago game. Perhaps "international" matches between domestic teams is a good way to breathe new life into domestic competitions and spice up cricket?

  • POSTED BY plow on | December 4, 2008, 8:44 GMT

    A good article, not totally correct but interesting reading.

    I think a precedent was set when NZ cricket did not stand up to the BCCI over Bond and the ICL.

    From that point on we have been weak. Fans and players no longer felt pride or strength in who we are. NZ has always been a rugged nation, a nation built on a culture of farming and rugby, a nation of hard arses. Being pushed around by big names has never been our style and ever since Justin Vaughan and his lot gave in to the BCCI, we lost our pride and identity of who we are.

    Martin Crowe is dead right, our players are confused. They dont know if NZC will stand up for them anymore. How can you ask our top six batsmen to have the mindset of battling it out for 2 days, when the admin is being pushed around like a bunch of girls?

    NZC must find a resolute policy and fight for our players, give them confidence in their futures so they can go out and express their fight on the field.

  • POSTED BY sammykent on | December 4, 2008, 5:41 GMT

    To have lost the services of Shane Bond the way we did was really disappointing. Bond always performed well against Australia, in fact I think his best stats came from playing them. I am living in Australia but keep an eye on the domestic results and am wondering why Franklin and Mills are not in the side. When I see Martin pick up the bat, usually nedding to be reminded that you hold the handle not bat with it, I wince. Mills or Franklin can bowl as well as him and carry a bat as well. When the tail is so often called upon to bat can NZ really afford to use players like Martin in Test cricket? I think a lot of our woes stem from poor selection and a lack of team consistency, the talent is there. Exposure to the Australian first class competition could not hurt either.

  • POSTED BY jblades on | December 4, 2008, 4:35 GMT

    Peter, acn';t agree more with you on many points, particularly that it would have helped NZ's cause considerably to have some of those senior players still around - had Bracewell not polarised a few of them with his fiery approach and disastrous man-management skills and had the ICL/IPL threat not been left to eat away at the likes of NZ's test player pool by world cricket. It saddens me, as a cricket fanatic, that 20/20 is being promoted by many as the future for international cricket. It debases the game, ruling out many of the deft skills which test cricket - the ultimate form of the game - enables to come to the fore. Put more emphasis on test cricket and 50-over ODIs... leave 20/20 for the Lancashire leagues. As for NZ cricket, what you say is pretty much true about its decline. It's not too late, but the ICC must show some teeth in supporting NZC because NZC's administrators haven't shown any teeth yet.

    http://www.halftimeorange.co.nz/opinion/brace-yourself-john-bracewell-

  • POSTED BY goto91 on | December 4, 2008, 3:49 GMT

    The reason New Zealand is 8th in the test rankings is because they have the lowest population of all the test teams.

    However it will be interesting to see, with all the money coming to New Zealand from India, how they will improve in the future. The exra money will mean the best athletes in the country will be playing cricket. Soon athletes who are like Sonny Bill Williams and Benji Marshall will be playing for the black Caps.

    Also, why do we have to assume that NZ was foolish to refuse to play in Kenya and they would not have won the 2003 World Cup.

  • POSTED BY vsssarma on | December 4, 2008, 3:23 GMT

    NZL is not as bad as is made out in this article. They lost a series with Australia 0-2 but then they did not play two of their top players - JEC Franklin and Jacob Oram. They lost the services of Shane Bond as their Board was successfully bullied by the BCCI. They should have strengthened spin attack by having Chris Martin, Vettori and Jeetan Patel (as Franklin and Bond are not playing) play each match along with Iain O'Brien and Mark Gillespie. Southee needs more time, it looks. In batting, I think that Matthew Sinclair still has some test cricket and should not have been dumped. Daniel Flynn appears good and so are Jesse Ryder and Ross Taylor. A team consisting of Ryder, Taylor, Oram, Sinclair, Flynn, McCullum, Vettori, Shane Bond, JEC Franklin, Mark Gillespie and Chris Martin is very strong. I feel that the basic problem is team selection, not talent deficit.

  • POSTED BY Ozcricketwriter on | December 4, 2008, 1:45 GMT

    3 letters - ICL. Too many current stars of New Zealand cricket (especially Shane Bond) are playing in the ICL or are otherwise taken from the game. Stephen Fleming, Craig McMillan, Lou Vincent and Shane Bond should be walk up starts for the side. Andre Adams (ICL) and Kyle Mills (oddly omitted) should be in the side too. The injury to star all-rounder Jacob Oram didn't help either. Add those players to the mix, on top of the great captaincy of Stephen Fleming, and you have a side of the strength that New Zealand has offered for most of the past decade - a truly world class side. The solution, very simply, is to remove all of the bans from playing ICL. Let them play ICL and be eligible to play (on merit) for their country. End the idiocy.

  • POSTED BY jamesflett on | December 6, 2008, 0:00 GMT

    Many of you make very good comments, and if I had the time I would have my say on every point that has been raised, however I will refrain to one: selection methods and management. 1: Talent is NOT an issue in NZ - we have very good pool of talented players given our population. Selection processes IS an issue. It was mentioned Papps averaged over 100 a couple of seasons ago - and was rightly selected, however by the time the NZ first class season had finished, NZ didnt play test cricket for 5 months. You cannot expect the same form 5months between drinks. Essentially, the people associated with selection obviously do not take into account WHEN to select people and when to not. There appears to be many Blackcaps fans with some good ideas on management and selection... maybe we should all get together as a coup to smash NZ cricket back into shape!

  • POSTED BY Gfree on | December 5, 2008, 9:08 GMT

    As for Martin.

    If I were boss, I'd fire any selector who even broached the subject of selecting the opening bowler based on his batting average.

    Come on!

    Hes honest, hard working, and he turns up and bowls. Thats it. Thats his job. Hes played a role far outside of his ability to the best able to him (that of attack spearhead). Franklin will surely be back in the team soon, but he has been out long term due to injury. Mills, yeah sure hes alright, but hardly any scarier than Martin. O'Brien's putting in a good showing as well. Southee is impressive with both bat and ball. And with Spin bowling in good steed we have good bowling resources which is great to see. Competition for their places based on their bowling has got to be good for all.

    But rest assured, our test team will not become winners because we pick a bowler who is a better batsman than Chris Martin.

    However, our Team might start doing better if we pick batsmen who are better batsmen than Chris Martin...

  • POSTED BY Gfree on | December 5, 2008, 8:56 GMT

    Rubbish.

    We do not need to play a team in Australia's Domestic Competition. We have the money, we have the setup, and we have world class one day players

    Take a look at "the numbers game" In the 1980's we had a good test record, much better than Aussie. Did Australia consider playing a team in our domestic competition then?

    We are useless currently in test cricket. Our batsmen bat for 50 overs max, combined. We can get 270 if we are lucky on a great pitch. But hold on a minute...

    Prior to the last world cup, NZC spent the build up YEAR concentrating on ODI's. We did pretty good, and looked dominant until the last two games.

    We just beat England home and away in 2 5 match one day series. And every kiwi remembers the 3 match drubbing of Aussie a couple of years ago.

    Our test team is crap because we no longer play 3 match test series and have maybe one warm up match.

    Our one day team is pretty damm good.

    They are pretty much the same players. Hmmm... practice makes perfect??

  • POSTED BY StJohn on | December 4, 2008, 16:01 GMT

    NZ domestic teams playing in the Sheffield Shield sounds like a great idea to boost standards & competitiveness & the rivalry between Australia & NZ would add spice to that mix. I read of an identical idea for improving standards in Bangladesh - that Bangladeshi domestic teams should play in the Indian domestic tournaments. All great ideas, but it would be really interesting to know: is anything being done to actively consider or implement these ideas? It's a pity when good, constructive ideas like these are simply left floating in the ether. Perhaps Cricinfo & the journalists who write these articles could answer that and perhaps we could even have a Cricinfo survey or petition about it, to be sent to the relevant national boards? For all the criticism of the Stanford Super Series, I really liked the Middlesex v Trinidad & Tobago game. Perhaps "international" matches between domestic teams is a good way to breathe new life into domestic competitions and spice up cricket?

  • POSTED BY plow on | December 4, 2008, 8:44 GMT

    A good article, not totally correct but interesting reading.

    I think a precedent was set when NZ cricket did not stand up to the BCCI over Bond and the ICL.

    From that point on we have been weak. Fans and players no longer felt pride or strength in who we are. NZ has always been a rugged nation, a nation built on a culture of farming and rugby, a nation of hard arses. Being pushed around by big names has never been our style and ever since Justin Vaughan and his lot gave in to the BCCI, we lost our pride and identity of who we are.

    Martin Crowe is dead right, our players are confused. They dont know if NZC will stand up for them anymore. How can you ask our top six batsmen to have the mindset of battling it out for 2 days, when the admin is being pushed around like a bunch of girls?

    NZC must find a resolute policy and fight for our players, give them confidence in their futures so they can go out and express their fight on the field.

  • POSTED BY sammykent on | December 4, 2008, 5:41 GMT

    To have lost the services of Shane Bond the way we did was really disappointing. Bond always performed well against Australia, in fact I think his best stats came from playing them. I am living in Australia but keep an eye on the domestic results and am wondering why Franklin and Mills are not in the side. When I see Martin pick up the bat, usually nedding to be reminded that you hold the handle not bat with it, I wince. Mills or Franklin can bowl as well as him and carry a bat as well. When the tail is so often called upon to bat can NZ really afford to use players like Martin in Test cricket? I think a lot of our woes stem from poor selection and a lack of team consistency, the talent is there. Exposure to the Australian first class competition could not hurt either.

  • POSTED BY jblades on | December 4, 2008, 4:35 GMT

    Peter, acn';t agree more with you on many points, particularly that it would have helped NZ's cause considerably to have some of those senior players still around - had Bracewell not polarised a few of them with his fiery approach and disastrous man-management skills and had the ICL/IPL threat not been left to eat away at the likes of NZ's test player pool by world cricket. It saddens me, as a cricket fanatic, that 20/20 is being promoted by many as the future for international cricket. It debases the game, ruling out many of the deft skills which test cricket - the ultimate form of the game - enables to come to the fore. Put more emphasis on test cricket and 50-over ODIs... leave 20/20 for the Lancashire leagues. As for NZ cricket, what you say is pretty much true about its decline. It's not too late, but the ICC must show some teeth in supporting NZC because NZC's administrators haven't shown any teeth yet.

    http://www.halftimeorange.co.nz/opinion/brace-yourself-john-bracewell-

  • POSTED BY goto91 on | December 4, 2008, 3:49 GMT

    The reason New Zealand is 8th in the test rankings is because they have the lowest population of all the test teams.

    However it will be interesting to see, with all the money coming to New Zealand from India, how they will improve in the future. The exra money will mean the best athletes in the country will be playing cricket. Soon athletes who are like Sonny Bill Williams and Benji Marshall will be playing for the black Caps.

    Also, why do we have to assume that NZ was foolish to refuse to play in Kenya and they would not have won the 2003 World Cup.

  • POSTED BY vsssarma on | December 4, 2008, 3:23 GMT

    NZL is not as bad as is made out in this article. They lost a series with Australia 0-2 but then they did not play two of their top players - JEC Franklin and Jacob Oram. They lost the services of Shane Bond as their Board was successfully bullied by the BCCI. They should have strengthened spin attack by having Chris Martin, Vettori and Jeetan Patel (as Franklin and Bond are not playing) play each match along with Iain O'Brien and Mark Gillespie. Southee needs more time, it looks. In batting, I think that Matthew Sinclair still has some test cricket and should not have been dumped. Daniel Flynn appears good and so are Jesse Ryder and Ross Taylor. A team consisting of Ryder, Taylor, Oram, Sinclair, Flynn, McCullum, Vettori, Shane Bond, JEC Franklin, Mark Gillespie and Chris Martin is very strong. I feel that the basic problem is team selection, not talent deficit.

  • POSTED BY Ozcricketwriter on | December 4, 2008, 1:45 GMT

    3 letters - ICL. Too many current stars of New Zealand cricket (especially Shane Bond) are playing in the ICL or are otherwise taken from the game. Stephen Fleming, Craig McMillan, Lou Vincent and Shane Bond should be walk up starts for the side. Andre Adams (ICL) and Kyle Mills (oddly omitted) should be in the side too. The injury to star all-rounder Jacob Oram didn't help either. Add those players to the mix, on top of the great captaincy of Stephen Fleming, and you have a side of the strength that New Zealand has offered for most of the past decade - a truly world class side. The solution, very simply, is to remove all of the bans from playing ICL. Let them play ICL and be eligible to play (on merit) for their country. End the idiocy.

  • POSTED BY johnbidd on | December 4, 2008, 1:08 GMT

    I think it would be good for NZ to be represented in the Sheffield Shield, as that would expose NZ players outside the test team to a high level of competition and different pitches. Australia probably owes NZ cricket that belated assistance, and it is ncessary to try to maintain top level standards. However, I think it is unrealistic to look to put 6 NZ sides in to the competition - 2 would probably be doable, and (remembering that the test players are rarely available for Shield games) NZ would probably have the depth to field that many competitive teams. Any more and the standard of the competition is likely to drop, to no-one's benefit. There's also finances to consider - the Shield is not a money-making proposition, and that is not likely to change.

  • POSTED BY SRT_Jammy_Dada_VVS_and_Anil_legends on | December 3, 2008, 22:31 GMT

    This is one of your better articles, indeed mediocrity has become an expected part of NZ cricket, you only have to look at the very poor school and club cricket structures to realise that artificial pitches and 20/20 are the two main reasons for the limited batting ability of many of our batsmen. The gulf between first-class and Test cricket in NZ is unbelievably vast, explaining why many players picked on the basis of strong 1st-class form (eg Michael Papps who once averaged 100 in a 1st-class season) fail miserably or underperform at the top level. Unfortunately in NZ cricket there is very low expectations as we do not strive to reach the top, but rather are happy with being in the middle of the pack, explaining the ridiculous joy with fighting back to beat Bangladesh in the Test, overlooking the fact that we should never have got ourselves into this perilous position. Good luck to Andy Moles and Daniel Vettori, a lot of hard work awaits.

  • POSTED BY FAnon on | December 3, 2008, 20:28 GMT

    Like our Dairy industry and Rugby, Cricket is uffering from the corporatisation of every facet of our lives. From the CEO to the coach all we hear is a bunch of inane incomprehensible banalities (just hear Barcewell speak) masking self-indulgent self-serving ambition and a total lack of accountability for systematic failures across the board. Those managing the Dairy board, Rugby union and NZ cricket should be held accountable for their catastrophic failures. It seems like a world-wide malaise though. Screw-ups on a monumental scale are laughed off while those must vulnerable, who make mistakes of a miniscule inconsequential scale suffer immediately a fate that those in power seem immunised from. Where callous incomptetent and even balatantly stupid management remain entrenched, drawing on obscene salaries, workers and players get the boot, and often many deserving dont get the opportunity to shine.

  • POSTED BY RWood on | December 3, 2008, 18:00 GMT

    We'll have to settle for good memories of the 80s, and meanwhile look at a side that has regressed to the 50s. If the decline is reversible, it'll take a decade or more to regain respectability.

  • POSTED BY Nige_C on | December 3, 2008, 16:46 GMT

    NZC has fallen into the error so common among business of false economy. Their willingness to allow the BCCI to dictate international rulings to another country regarding an internal domestic issue, may well have gained favour and money in the short term, but has lost them respect and player commitment in the long term. Watching NZ play has become embrassing, and I wonder if the seeds of failure were planted when NZC failed to show any determination to stand up for themselves. How could the NZC reprimand any batsman for "not showing any fight" without being totally hypocritical.

  • POSTED BY Krishnas_Best on | December 3, 2008, 13:16 GMT

    Sad to say, but Roebuck has got some more researching to do............ A country with population equal to Mumbai is still able to bring out a good team despite getting half of its players( Andre Adams,"SHANE BOND", Hamish Marshall..........) banned by the BCCI is quite creditable.

    What does NZC get in return for supporting the IPL ? A further depletion of its already scarce resources. How can they put a great team from the limited pool of players they have? Mr Roebuck, the fault lies elsewhere.

    This is written by an Indian , who feels sorry for the current Kiwi plight, half of which is not even their doing.

  • POSTED BY NeilCameron on | December 3, 2008, 9:13 GMT

    I heard Ian Chappell the other day talking about the current Kiwi coaching situation and basically said that it didn't matter how good the coach was, if New Zealand aren't capable of producing high class players they will continue to lose. I agree.

    Blame Bracewell if you must, criticise the board for its treatment of Bond too. Nevertheless, the fact remains that New Zealand can't pick decent high class players from its First Class ranks.

    The solution is for New Zealand and Australia to combine their first class competition. 6 Australian teams and 6 New Zealand teams playing each other once in four-day matches, totalling 11 first class matches in a season. Both countries will benefit - Australian batsmen and bowlers will learn to play on the seamier NZ surfaces, which will help develop decent spinners. NZ batsmen and bowlers will learn to play against top class Aussies on bouncy pitches.

    It may not be enough to make NZ into the best Test nation, but it will certainly help.

  • POSTED BY bwnz on | December 3, 2008, 9:08 GMT

    Thanks Peter for a great article. Martin Crowe has recently pointed out similar issues, using a lot stronger language. I love cricket, particularly tests and I'm a New Zealander. I find myself constantly dismayed at the selfishness and lack of foresight by the administrators of the game that's gone on for some time now. We would always have had to rebuild at some stage but to have what's happened under Bracewell's era is a disgrace - someone should be answerable, especially when the likes of Shane Bond acted in good faith, only to be betrayed in such a cowardly way. And start looking forward now, build at grass roots level, and utilise the many of our former players - starting with Martin Crowe!

  • POSTED BY 1stSlip on | December 3, 2008, 8:24 GMT

    Is it not time for NZ Cricket to be brave and conduct a world search for and appoint the very best international coach available to come to NZ to coach the national team ?

    If Aussie Rugby - in it's quest for the best talent - is bold enough to bring a coach in from overseas (a Kiwi), then there is no reason why NZ Cricket can't do the same.

  • POSTED BY StJohn on | December 3, 2008, 8:22 GMT

    The fortunes of all teams ebb & flow. So I'm not sure to what extent NZ is suffering, at least in part, from a raft of fairly recent high-profile retirements rather than system-failure. Yes, ideally some top players might have played longer. But Cairns & Bond had their injury problems anyway & stretching out the careers of talented but ageing players is no substitute for developing new ones. So the question is: is the current set up so fractious & ineffective that it fails both to develop new talent & to make the most of existing talent? Also, there were some new & useful players, like Marshall & Tuffey, who just vanished off the scene, I think because of the ICL mess. As Roebuck points out, not just regarding Bond, a small country with limited resources has to make the most of what it has. But I'm not sure the NZ picture is quite so gloomy: but for undisciplined batting, NZ might have won at Brisbane & drawn in Adelaide; and even poor old Bangladesh has its moments of near-glory!

  • POSTED BY Tom_Griffin on | December 3, 2008, 7:44 GMT

    It's all very well for you to say "It ought rather to have cancelled the game for a year than backed down in the face of intimidation"- you couldn't give a rats ass about watching New Zealand play cricket. What about the fans who want to see New Zealand play. Then you go on to say;"Instead they sent a message to all players: Look after yourselves." well what kind of message would canceling all NZ's cricket for a year for the sake of one player send to his team mates (team mates who would have no job/income). Those players would all then be hugely vulnerable to the ICL. Also what message does canceling a whole years cricket send to the fans-; "you don't matter we'll just make a statement while you have no cricket to watch". While I am bitterly disappointed at Bond's loss and the way it was handled ( and the bloody BCCI's involvement), you're argument against NZC is completely baseless and ill thought out.

  • POSTED BY Ani11s on | December 3, 2008, 6:30 GMT

    I have been a fan and follower of NZ cricket for quite sometime now. Peter Roebuck is right in mentioning the lack of cohesion in NZ cricket. I thought things would only improve for NZ under Vettori after they did so wonderfully under Fleming. Roebuck is also right in saying that NZ cannot afford premature retirements as happened in the case of Astle, Mcmilan, Styris (from test) and Cairns. They looked world beaters two years back. It is sad to see what is happening now but let us not loose hope. NZ is more than a decent one day side but somehow their skillset dont support longer version of the game. The way NZC handled Bond was disgusting. One cannot let their best bowler to go just like that. Hope these administrators get their senses back and help NZ cricket to reach the heights which it is capable of. Sarkar

  • POSTED BY Adhil.mothie on | December 3, 2008, 5:12 GMT

    its a reality,we are on the decline,i dont think its the players,itz how they are managed.we might not of had the Borders to bolster our batting or the Ambroses to make a lethal bowling line up,but we had everything to be a team 2 reckon with.we were once upon a time rankd 3rd in tests & now we the 2nd last team in the world.i think support is the key,if the cricketers had the support of the all blacks do,maybe our team would b more motivatd.i think we should clean out the management staff with bracewel & the last result was a clear indication of what he has done to our team.i felt martin crowe's emotions in his article.it breaks my heart to see our team in such tatters.i.m a south african,a country that is rankd 2nd in the world but nz cricket is my heart & soul from a young age and Brendon Mccullum is my hero since 05.i luv him to bits,i want him to be the best but management is key.if he was an aussie,he would be ideal replacement of Gilli.

  • POSTED BY jaymin_316 on | December 3, 2008, 4:31 GMT

    "Had Daniel Vettori switched sides, the weak Bangladeshis might have won." A very harsh but true reality. Vettori is the only world class player NZ has in its team (i guess i can also include McCullum) and as you mentioned they badly need Bond back in the team. If they are not able to pay enough money to thier cricketer's then let them earn in off season by playing in Indian leagues. After all, every man wants to secure the future of his family so its no mistake of bond. Also they way the current crop bats suggests me that they do not have the appetite to hang in there even for a day on a flat oval wicket where average total of 1st innings is around 500 runs. They need to send their domestic teams to australia for sheffield shield matches and for hell's sake bring back BOND.Though i think Oram might have made a small difference on the recent tour. hey should start giving cricket more importance at the early stages and take some pride in playing for your country. If not, you aint needed

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  • POSTED BY jaymin_316 on | December 3, 2008, 4:31 GMT

    "Had Daniel Vettori switched sides, the weak Bangladeshis might have won." A very harsh but true reality. Vettori is the only world class player NZ has in its team (i guess i can also include McCullum) and as you mentioned they badly need Bond back in the team. If they are not able to pay enough money to thier cricketer's then let them earn in off season by playing in Indian leagues. After all, every man wants to secure the future of his family so its no mistake of bond. Also they way the current crop bats suggests me that they do not have the appetite to hang in there even for a day on a flat oval wicket where average total of 1st innings is around 500 runs. They need to send their domestic teams to australia for sheffield shield matches and for hell's sake bring back BOND.Though i think Oram might have made a small difference on the recent tour. hey should start giving cricket more importance at the early stages and take some pride in playing for your country. If not, you aint needed

  • POSTED BY Adhil.mothie on | December 3, 2008, 5:12 GMT

    its a reality,we are on the decline,i dont think its the players,itz how they are managed.we might not of had the Borders to bolster our batting or the Ambroses to make a lethal bowling line up,but we had everything to be a team 2 reckon with.we were once upon a time rankd 3rd in tests & now we the 2nd last team in the world.i think support is the key,if the cricketers had the support of the all blacks do,maybe our team would b more motivatd.i think we should clean out the management staff with bracewel & the last result was a clear indication of what he has done to our team.i felt martin crowe's emotions in his article.it breaks my heart to see our team in such tatters.i.m a south african,a country that is rankd 2nd in the world but nz cricket is my heart & soul from a young age and Brendon Mccullum is my hero since 05.i luv him to bits,i want him to be the best but management is key.if he was an aussie,he would be ideal replacement of Gilli.

  • POSTED BY Ani11s on | December 3, 2008, 6:30 GMT

    I have been a fan and follower of NZ cricket for quite sometime now. Peter Roebuck is right in mentioning the lack of cohesion in NZ cricket. I thought things would only improve for NZ under Vettori after they did so wonderfully under Fleming. Roebuck is also right in saying that NZ cannot afford premature retirements as happened in the case of Astle, Mcmilan, Styris (from test) and Cairns. They looked world beaters two years back. It is sad to see what is happening now but let us not loose hope. NZ is more than a decent one day side but somehow their skillset dont support longer version of the game. The way NZC handled Bond was disgusting. One cannot let their best bowler to go just like that. Hope these administrators get their senses back and help NZ cricket to reach the heights which it is capable of. Sarkar

  • POSTED BY Tom_Griffin on | December 3, 2008, 7:44 GMT

    It's all very well for you to say "It ought rather to have cancelled the game for a year than backed down in the face of intimidation"- you couldn't give a rats ass about watching New Zealand play cricket. What about the fans who want to see New Zealand play. Then you go on to say;"Instead they sent a message to all players: Look after yourselves." well what kind of message would canceling all NZ's cricket for a year for the sake of one player send to his team mates (team mates who would have no job/income). Those players would all then be hugely vulnerable to the ICL. Also what message does canceling a whole years cricket send to the fans-; "you don't matter we'll just make a statement while you have no cricket to watch". While I am bitterly disappointed at Bond's loss and the way it was handled ( and the bloody BCCI's involvement), you're argument against NZC is completely baseless and ill thought out.

  • POSTED BY StJohn on | December 3, 2008, 8:22 GMT

    The fortunes of all teams ebb & flow. So I'm not sure to what extent NZ is suffering, at least in part, from a raft of fairly recent high-profile retirements rather than system-failure. Yes, ideally some top players might have played longer. But Cairns & Bond had their injury problems anyway & stretching out the careers of talented but ageing players is no substitute for developing new ones. So the question is: is the current set up so fractious & ineffective that it fails both to develop new talent & to make the most of existing talent? Also, there were some new & useful players, like Marshall & Tuffey, who just vanished off the scene, I think because of the ICL mess. As Roebuck points out, not just regarding Bond, a small country with limited resources has to make the most of what it has. But I'm not sure the NZ picture is quite so gloomy: but for undisciplined batting, NZ might have won at Brisbane & drawn in Adelaide; and even poor old Bangladesh has its moments of near-glory!

  • POSTED BY 1stSlip on | December 3, 2008, 8:24 GMT

    Is it not time for NZ Cricket to be brave and conduct a world search for and appoint the very best international coach available to come to NZ to coach the national team ?

    If Aussie Rugby - in it's quest for the best talent - is bold enough to bring a coach in from overseas (a Kiwi), then there is no reason why NZ Cricket can't do the same.

  • POSTED BY bwnz on | December 3, 2008, 9:08 GMT

    Thanks Peter for a great article. Martin Crowe has recently pointed out similar issues, using a lot stronger language. I love cricket, particularly tests and I'm a New Zealander. I find myself constantly dismayed at the selfishness and lack of foresight by the administrators of the game that's gone on for some time now. We would always have had to rebuild at some stage but to have what's happened under Bracewell's era is a disgrace - someone should be answerable, especially when the likes of Shane Bond acted in good faith, only to be betrayed in such a cowardly way. And start looking forward now, build at grass roots level, and utilise the many of our former players - starting with Martin Crowe!

  • POSTED BY NeilCameron on | December 3, 2008, 9:13 GMT

    I heard Ian Chappell the other day talking about the current Kiwi coaching situation and basically said that it didn't matter how good the coach was, if New Zealand aren't capable of producing high class players they will continue to lose. I agree.

    Blame Bracewell if you must, criticise the board for its treatment of Bond too. Nevertheless, the fact remains that New Zealand can't pick decent high class players from its First Class ranks.

    The solution is for New Zealand and Australia to combine their first class competition. 6 Australian teams and 6 New Zealand teams playing each other once in four-day matches, totalling 11 first class matches in a season. Both countries will benefit - Australian batsmen and bowlers will learn to play on the seamier NZ surfaces, which will help develop decent spinners. NZ batsmen and bowlers will learn to play against top class Aussies on bouncy pitches.

    It may not be enough to make NZ into the best Test nation, but it will certainly help.

  • POSTED BY Krishnas_Best on | December 3, 2008, 13:16 GMT

    Sad to say, but Roebuck has got some more researching to do............ A country with population equal to Mumbai is still able to bring out a good team despite getting half of its players( Andre Adams,"SHANE BOND", Hamish Marshall..........) banned by the BCCI is quite creditable.

    What does NZC get in return for supporting the IPL ? A further depletion of its already scarce resources. How can they put a great team from the limited pool of players they have? Mr Roebuck, the fault lies elsewhere.

    This is written by an Indian , who feels sorry for the current Kiwi plight, half of which is not even their doing.

  • POSTED BY Nige_C on | December 3, 2008, 16:46 GMT

    NZC has fallen into the error so common among business of false economy. Their willingness to allow the BCCI to dictate international rulings to another country regarding an internal domestic issue, may well have gained favour and money in the short term, but has lost them respect and player commitment in the long term. Watching NZ play has become embrassing, and I wonder if the seeds of failure were planted when NZC failed to show any determination to stand up for themselves. How could the NZC reprimand any batsman for "not showing any fight" without being totally hypocritical.