December 8, 2008

Experimentation can bring further misery for New Zealand


By Syed Khalid Mahmood

The New Zealand cricket has been harmed endlessly by the inconsistency of their movers and shakers. Every team in the world makes minor changes in their outfit once in a while but the frequency with which their selectors keep doing is mind boggling to say the least. Even wholesale changes could be acceptable if the idea is to rebuild but to make sweeping changes after literally every series or so doesn’t make any sense at all.

I am not sure why there is a culture of experimentation rampant in the New Zealand cricket for so long. There could have been an odd brainy or visionary individual whose passion was to try out new youngsters and he might have been the motivating force in implementing such an adventurous policy. But the manner in which almost every selection committee has treated its own cricketers so shabbily makes us think that they are probably not serious about the sport.

Cricket no doubt is a sport, the gentleman’s game to be specific. But the game of cricket was revolutionized in the 1970s by a man called Kerry Packer. With the greater number of broadcasters coming into play and the limited overs games becoming more and more popular it was no longer an amateur sport. It has become one of the most rewarding professions in many parts of the world.

Apparently the New Zealand cricket administrators have yet not been able to grasp the fact that they need a more professional approach in building their teams to stay in demand globally. New Zealand certainly has some disadvantages as compared to Australia, England or South Africa due to its extreme weather and also the distant location.

Under the circumstances the New Zealanders should have been more proactive because they were competing against heavy odds. Their inconsistent selection policy has only brought more miseries for them. They are one of those visiting teams the sub-continental countries are reluctant in hosting. They don’t pull crowds because they lack the desired number of quality players in their squad. How would the quality players get the opportunity of unfolding their talents when they are discarded after just one failure.

It will be in the interests of the New Zealand cricket if their selectors take a leaf out of the book of other leading nations who have managed their affairs admirably in the given scenario. Everyone has a problem or two up their sleeves but better managers handle them skillfully to get out of the mess. Is it easy to pick up teams in countries like Australia and India who currently face embarrassment of riches. The answer is no. But they have devised means that are working with the common denominator being common sense.

There hardly seems dearth of talented cricketers in New Zealand. It’s only the questionable approach of the selectors that has prevented them from producing the stalwarts like Glenn Turner, Richard Hadlee, John Wright and Martin Crowe. Their system can produce outstanding players if their talented youngsters are provided the confidence.

There is absolutely no element of surprise in finding changes in the New Zealand line-up for the upcoming home series against the West Indies. Unlike the 1980s and early part of the 1990s the visitors from the Caribbean are themselves not in good shape but some elementary mistakes from the New Zealand selectors could give them a lifeline.

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