It was 15 years ago that Mark Taylor played his last One Day International. At that time, Australia embarked upon a new era – split captaincy. Something that is common these days. Due to the increased specialisation of the short forms of the game, and the differences in the traditional form, we often find different men captaining those respective teams. Now a different Taylor is involved in a split captaincy controversy.
In 1997, Taylor was in the middle of a form slump that threatened his career in all forms of the game. Australia had lost the recent World Cup and had one game remaining of the three match lead up to the Ashes. Taylor was left out of the side for that match and Steve Waugh, as vice captain took over. Taylor famously righted his own ship in the Tests, his team one the Ashes and he may have expected business as usual next summer.
That did not eventuate. In a decision that shocked the Australian cricket community, Taylor was dumped from the One Day team for good. He was welcome to continue as Test opener and Test captain and he did. Waugh and Taylor managed this situation with maturity and dignity and it was a success. But Taylor has always been clear that he didn’t like the situation. That is understandable but time has shown that the Australian selectors actually got that one right.
Now a remarkable situation has developed with New Zealand cricket with another captain Taylor. Ross Taylor. I’m not close to New Zealand cricket but I do try and follow all cricket to some degree and this intrigues me. Ross Taylor has been captain of the Black Caps since late last year and the ODI team for a bit longer, when Daniel Vettori retired from ODI cricket in June 2011.
If you follow New Zealand cricket at all, you would know that 2012 has been a lean year. One of the ideas to turn things around is to have a split captaincy. I don’t understand the rationale of this decision. It was determined that Brendan McCullum would be offered the captaincy for T20 and ODI cricket while Taylor would remain Test captain. The odd thing about this is that Taylor has not been dropped from the ODI team. It seems to me, an outsider, to be an arbitrary decision. Back in 1997, it was obvious that Mark Taylor could not be captain of an ODI team that he was not in. But what is this about?
Like Tubby Taylor before him, Ross Taylor is not happy about the situation and has stood down from Test captaincy. Further, New Zealand’s premier batsman has opted out of the up-coming tour to South Africa. I don’t know the actual aim of this move but I still think it is safe to say that it has misfired.
The really unfortunate thing is that the Black Caps most recent act was to handsomely win a Test match in Sri Lanka and square the Test series 1-1. This was largely made possible by a fine innings of 142 by the captain, which set the match up for them and resulted in him being made man-of-the-match. Perhaps this was a “flash in the pan” from an underperforming team. But perhaps this was a turning point and any knee jerk changes could have been shelved for a while. It seems to me like New Zealand cricket may have actually shot themselves in the foot.