With less than a year left to the World Cup, Mike Hesson, the 43-year-old head coach of New Zealand, has announced he will step down.
Hesson made the announcement at a press conference on Thursday afternoon in Auckland. A New Zealand Cricket media release stated that he wanted "a break from the rigours of international cricket, and to spend more time with his wife and children."
"There's so many other leaders in the playing group and in the support staff," captain Kane Williamson said. "I think we can't underestimate that. Hess was a big part of the environment but a lot of that was including others, giving others responsibility, and they've taken that responsibility on for a number of years and offered so much to that environment.
"Him and Brendon [McCullum] were huge in that, and that's certainly been a strength of Hess' and we want to continue that moving forward. There are number of parts where that was shown. Certainly the backing of players for long periods, where guys could actually come into the environment and not feel like one day they're here and the next day they're there. [They said] actually, no, there's an investment from everyone here and you're good enough and you're backed and cricket has good days and bad days and it doesn't matter who you are."
Hesson is set to leave in July, one year ahead of when his contract would have expired. NZC chief executive David White said he attempted to persuade him to stay on and guide the team through the World Cup in May 2019 but understood the decision.
"Personally, I regard him as the best coach the Blackcaps have ever had" Brendon McCullum on Mike Hesson
So ends a six-year term, the pinnacle of which was New Zealand's performance in the last World Cup when they made it to the final for the first time. Also notable was their dominance at home in Test cricket. Under Hesson's charge, the team won eight out of 11 series.
"This job requires 100 percent commitment and is all consuming," he said. "I know what's required over the next 12 months, but if I'm honest, I don't feel I have the capacity to give the job what it deserves. NZC, in particular David White and the board, have given me incredible support, including flexibility and options. But the idea of missing a match, a tour or a format, as has been proposed at different times, has never sat well with me."
With New Zealand's next international assignment only in October, when they play Pakistan in the UAE, the board has some time to find a new coach.
Hesson's tenure got off to a bumpy start during his first year in charge. A proposal to have separate captains for the Test and limited-overs sides resulted in Ross Taylor, who had been leading New Zealand since 2011, resigning before making himself unavailable for the tour to South Africa in December 2012. McCullum took over the reins with Taylor returning to the fold a few months later when England came to visit in February 2013.
Hesson's partnership with McCullum, and subsequently Kane Williamson, have been some of the most successful years in New Zealand cricket history. He finishes with an even 21 wins and 21 losses in Tests, 65 wins and 46 losses in ODIs and 30 wins and 26 losses in T20Is.
"We remember the 2015 World Cup as a great time for New Zealand and Mike should be recognised for the huge part he played in that," said McCullum. "His meticulous planning and eye for detail gave us our best chance of success and he can be proud of what he helped the team achieve. Personally, I regard him as the best coach the Blackcaps have ever had."