'Hope McCullum stays part of leadership group'
New Zealand's coach, John Wright, is confident Brendon McCullum and Ross Taylor can work together after the drawn-out jostle to become the team's captain. Wright said the near three months that it took to decide between the two candidates, as New Zealand Cricket (NZC) waited for them to return home from the IPL, was far from ideal.
Daniel Vettori's last game in charge, the World Cup semi-final, was in late March, and it took 84 days for Taylor to be confirmed as his successor. Months of speculation as to who would win the role didn't help team stability as Taylor and McCullum waited for a decision from a three-man panel comprising Wright, the director of cricket John Buchanan and the national selection manager Mark Greatbatch.
"To be honest, in future I hope that whatever processes are embarked on in reaching these decisions are probably a little bit more rapid than they have been in this case," Wright said. "For me, being a coach, we're in a sporting competitive environment and it's about making decisions as quickly as possible and then getting on with things."
Wright said he hoped that after spending so long with his eyes on the top job, McCullum could remain a leader within the squad despite the disappointment of being overlooked. McCullum said on Tuesday that he was keen to take on the vice-captaincy and Wright said that while no decision had been made on who would be second-in-command, he was sure McCullum could work with Taylor in any capacity.
"I hope that Brendon, by the time this all settles down, is an important part of our leadership group," Wright said. "[As India coach] I've worked in the past with Ganguly and Dravid and Kumble and Tendulkar - with Dravid and Ganguly they were captain and vice-captain, they helped each other and were very important to the side.
"I hope that Brendon will come to terms with this and I still think he's got an important part to play in the leadership of this team. If he wants to do the job [as vice-captain], if Ross Taylor is off the field he's certainly the bloke that seems an obvious candidate."
Taylor won the role in part due to being the incumbent vice-captain, and also because he impressed with his tactical nous and his run-making when he has stood in for Vettori over the past two years. The new captain's approach might be understated, but Wright has been pleased with the decisions he has seen from Taylor when he has had the chance to lead.
"One of the advantages that Ross had was that he was the incumbent and he'd performed well in his vice-captaincy role," Wright said. "From my perspective, from the time that I've been with the team since Christmas that probably gave him an advantage over Brendon.
"They both presented well. It was obvious that they had a passion for the job. I've been impressed with his [Taylor's] captaincy when he's had the opportunity. There have been a couple of occasions when he has made some subtle field changes that have worked and we've got wickets. There are some things he's done that you look at and you think, 'yeah, that's actually worked'."
New Zealand's next series is in Zimbabwe in September, a tour on which Taylor will become his country's 27th Test captain, and only the third man to do the job this century. He then faces a tough tour of Australia, followed by home Tests against Zimbabwe and South Africa to round out the 2011-12 summer.
Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo