New Zealand's returning coach Gary Stead has said that he was "very surprised" by the criticism that had been directed at him when we went on a pre-planned leave, after the team had been blanked 5-0 in the T20I series against India.
Stead handed over the reins to bowling coach Shane Jurgensen for the following three-match ODI series and took a five-day break, which sparked outrage in New Zealand. Former captain Jeremy Coney, in particular, was scathing in his criticism of the coach and the timing of his leave. Prior to the T20Is against India, New Zealand had been whitewashed 3-0 across the Tasman Sea in the longest format.
"I was really surprised," Stead said ahead of the first Test against India. "I mean New Zealand Cricket and I have talked about this for a long time, looking after the staff and the players we have. So, we did that and I know New Zealand Cricket are doing what we think is right for our us as people, first and foremost, so we did it. I was very surprised.
"I guess everyone is entitled to their opinion. I guess what Jeremy Coney says about me doesn't necessarily have relevance to the way we go about things. So, yeah..."
New Zealand cricket had earlier backed Stead's pre-planned holiday, citing workload issues. In Stead's absence, New Zealand clinched the ODI series 3-0. After sweeping the ODI series, captain Kane Williamson opted not to read too much into Stead's leave and reiterated that it was a pre-planned one.
Stead said that he now felt refreshed following the break and is plotting an upturn in New Zealand's Test fortunes after their 3-0 drubbing in Australia.
"It was good to spend time with the family," he said. I know that. Look, I have had four-five days and I'm back to work planning for this Test series now. Again, the distractions don't need to be there. So, we have to move on and look ahead to the India Test series now. "