September 23, 2013

An agenda for New Zealand Cricket

The board has taken a first half-step towards well-meaning governance. But to regain the fans' trust, it must demand transparency and truth of itself

New Zealand Cricket entered a new era in its latest makeover attempt, announcing a revamped board with an updated constitution going forward. It stopped short of a complete fresh new look, instead opting to leave a bit here and there from the ropey old style. Nonetheless, it was a changing of appearance long overdue.

Firstly, it should be applauded that half the old board did the honourable thing and resigned, moving aside after the most tumultuous year in the organisation's history. Those who have left have shown their integrity and accountability, attributes desperately lacking in recent years. Why the other three directors from the previous regime decided to stay, let alone be pardoned and reappointed by the new appointment panel, is hard to fathom. It is the one downside to this generally positive news.

The last board brought the game in New Zealand to its knees over the last summer, and no one should have survived. Continuity is admirable, but only if the previous experience has any merit for the future regime. Strangely, two of the directors to be retained are lawyers by trade, yet one crucial new addition, Martin Snedden, the former player, board member and NZC CEO and recent 2011 rugby World Cup organiser, has vast experience in law already.

So there are four other new faces, including the nation's finest cricketer, Sir Richard Hadlee. It's comforting to know too that he is joined by Geoff Allott, the former paceman and New Zealand Cricket general manager of recent times.

The latest announcement follows the news that NZC has also recruited Bruce Edgar, another former performer from the '80s, as the new national selection manager.

It has certainly been a turbulent, nightmarish 12 months, but without doubt the tide is slowly turning. It's been a simple case of when one reaches such a low ebb there being really only one way to go.

Thankfully, the makeover has begun, albeit softly softly. It's a naturally conservative and predictable approach. The public has demanded accountability, honesty and integrity the very attributes the departing John Buchanan rightly exposed NZC as completely lacking, so this latest announcement is a real beginning. The fourth and final attribute, Buchanan mentioned, trust, still seems a long way off announcing its welcome, as that will take time to develop.

Having said that, Snedden and Hadlee are ideally suited and positioned to make this half-step a proper first stride. Their experience, respectability, honesty and inspiration will be enormous in shaping a new board mentality.

Over the last handful of years, NZC has operated without any values, any direction, any mission or vision that our national summer game needs. Without question, it has lacked leadership. Credit where it is due, there appears to be a serious shift in the right direction. However, questions remain.

Can this new board, hopefully to be chaired by Snedden, build the vital values of honesty, integrity, accountability and trust?

Can this new board, hopefully to be chaired by Snedden, build the vital values of honesty, integrity, accountability and trust? Can the officials acknowledge once and for all what the organisation actually stands for? Will they provide the talented youth this country always produces a genuine pathway to fulfil their aspirations? After all, what is sport for? Surely it needs to cater to the young who aspire to achieve personal greatness in the collective cause of flying the flag honourably for their country?

Since 2002, when coincidentally the players association came into force, our game has plummeted down the official world rankings. By 2008, New Zealand were at their lowest ranking ever, eighth, and unacceptably have remained there ever since.

On the other side of the fence, rugby has continued to flourish. The All Blacks have maintained their dominance as the No. 1-ranked team in the world. The Blackcaps have indeed become a poor cousin to the mighty All Blacks. While the All Blacks are revered the world over, some refer to the Blackcaps as a laughing stock.

Cricket in New Zealand shouldn't be that alienated. Sadly, the lack of authenticity and integrity has left fans disconnected and the game floundering. It has to change, and it can with care and responsibility, with courage and compassion. It must inspire the young to want to represent New Zealand to fulfil a dream. This should be the brief for the new board.

The All Blacks are our nation's proudest identity. They have a name that befits their look and their actions: all black and all in. They are an intensely proud community where people look after one another, pass the torch from one generation to another. It's truly admirable and inspiring to witness. Other sports have naturally looked to follow in these mighty boots. Most have failed as it's as hard an act to follow as there is.

There is a starting point for NZC - get rid of the appalling brand. Remember, no other cricket nation adopts such foolishness. Did we really need to copy the Australian love of their cap and adopt it as our true identity? It was always misplaced.

If a shortening of the good old "NZ cricket team" label is necessary then let's do a survey and see if there isn't one authentic description that would honour our finest cricketers properly.

For a start, forget black; leave that to the winter codes. This is a summer game. Here is a notion, forget colour. What about the simplicity of "NZ Cricketers" or the strength of a name like the "NZ Nationals"? Although Labour supporters won't approve! Conservative maybe, but so much more appropriate than a silly coloured hat.

Moving on, the organisation must demand transparency and truth of itself. By this demand it will find its own soul, its own spiritual place, and while it will be very different to the All Blacks, it will become very similar in heart. In essence it will find its own mana: centred, grounded, authentic, even loving. Once established, pride and inspiration will resonate from its very heartbeat. That must be the vision, the dream. Then the makeover will be complete.

Martin Crowe, one of the leading batsmen of the late '80s, played 77 Tests for New Zealand

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • ESPN on September 25, 2013, 16:43 GMT

    He is a master of outswing delivery MARTIN CROW

  • paul on September 24, 2013, 22:20 GMT

    A great quote from history "Tyranny prevails while good men stay quite" This quote I believe ,is very close to where NZC has travelled over the last 12 months or so. I hope the NEW board members take note of that quote and allow themselves to actually bring those "Good Men"back into their offices and allow them to speak....only then will the truth be told. If not, Tyranny will prevail and nothing will have changed.

  • gordon on September 24, 2013, 10:32 GMT

    Just change the name back to NZ, the name of the country works for almost everyone else, doesn't appear to hold back India or England.

    Can we also ditch the black gear for limited overs, who wants to wear a black polyester shirt on a 36 degree day in Chennai? We would look (and feel) a lot better in white with black trim.

  • Clem on September 24, 2013, 6:27 GMT

    Dear Martin - many thanks for writing this article. While we all appreciate the somewhat chaotic comings and goings last year with NZ Cricket, I thought you had closed the cricket chapter for good? I know this from reading your recent book Raw and watching the various interviews you provided prior to the book launch. As a former cancer patient in remission, like yourself, why bother feeding the beast again, especially with a flaky article like this? It is time to let to go and keep the promise you made that you had turned your back on NZ Cricket. Stay healthy.

  • john on September 24, 2013, 0:50 GMT

    Weldone mr crowe, bringing up some great points.i dont no the numbers nationally, but my sons cricket team is struggling to get the kids back for this season.Two of the top order are giving baseball a crack..Is this sign of the times or the suits asleep at the wheel? I hear some fighting words "Reconnecting"to the grassroots, which is funny cause some the board members where part of the disconnection.I have trust in two of the new members because of thier track record and their cricket heart, the rest must earn it.nzc at the moment are putting all there eggs in the worldcup basket, to mend the raw wounds..rubbish, just get rid of the people who where lieing and are still publicly damaged.Then the game we love can be put into better and safer hands for the future..

  • Jack on September 23, 2013, 13:42 GMT

    Congratulations on the return to health Martin, and excellent points raised.

    Fingers crossed trust is built - starting with players vs. administrators on a macro level, and B. McCullum & LRPT Taylor at a player level. We have a great stable of bowlers developing in all forms of the game under the watchful eye of S. Bond. As always, we're wanting for runs with the bat though.....

    Is NZ's finest batsman able to lend a hand?

  • achint on September 23, 2013, 12:36 GMT

    Cricket is NZ's summer national sport and 2nd most popular sport.The test matches usually show less crowd (eden park is an exception) but T20s and ODIs usually show full houses. There is interest for the sport but due to their board's problems it looks as if people are losing interest in cricket. The recent performances of NZ have been excellent and I am sure the Blackcaps can catch up with the all blacks within 2-3 years.

  • Dummy4 on September 23, 2013, 10:54 GMT

    I really think the name of our team is the least of our problems

  • John on September 23, 2013, 10:25 GMT

    Martin I think this is a really weak article. You need to at least remind the slightly uniniated why there were such issues in the NZC, and why it has been a "turbulent, nightmarish 12 months" rather than assuming so much knowledge. I probably do know some of the issues you're referring to (e.g. Ross Taylor?) but I think you need a bit more "transparency" yourself in your article. Or at least include a proper link to a different article that outlines the issues.

  • Shane on September 23, 2013, 10:15 GMT

    I don't really see the point in comparing the Black Caps to the All Blacks - it's the old question, does the person who wins the local fun run achieve more than the person who comes 5th in the Olympic marathon?

    @venkatesh018 - cricket followers have taken a disturbing turn in recent years. I really believe that, if NZ were to miraculously climb to the top of the rankings tomorrow, there would still be large sections of the cricket community around the world who would have no respect for them. We are simply splitting into to cricket worlds, one of which believes itself to be far more important than the other.

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