cricket / short form

The Gift that Keeps on Giving

Will the Captaincy Saga ever be over? That is the question many followers of New Zealand cricket must now be pondering. Hostilities have broken out again, after simmering beneath the surface for a few weeks. This time it is McCullum who has gone on the attack, threatening legal action against Joseph Parker, who wrote a report critical of the handling of Ross Taylor’s removal from the captaincy.

The question here is what possible gain any party has in the continuation of this fight. The motivation behind the Parker report is obvious, he is concerned about how NZC is running the game and feels he and his associates must speak out. Parker is, of course, entitled to his opinion, but the merits of it are neither here nor there. He has no power, and the ex players and other figures backing him have largely chosen to not make waves on his behalf.

McCullum’s actions have now given the Parker report fresh oxygen. Given that he is worried about public perception and feels slandered, surely the worst thing to do is to use the heavy hand of the law to silence Parker. McCullum would have been far better served by giving an interview on the subject to a sympathetic journalist, and then letting his personal popularity counteracting any claims made by Parker. By using legal threats, he isn’t making himself look any better. By dragging this through the courts, he will only end up reminding people repeatedly of what was said.

And speaking of journalists, will they ever run out of material from this story? Cricket columnists up and down the country will be thrilled that their subject material for next week has arrived so neatly in their inbox. Probably the week after that too. What will be next? Will Taylor too decide to lawyer up? Will Joseph Parker counter-sue? Only time will tell. One thing for sure though is that there will be more to this story. If anything has been shown throughout this debacle, nobody involved in cricket in New Zealand knows how to shut up and get on with their job.

2 thoughts on “The Gift that Keeps on Giving

  1. Fair enough that nobody in the whole process has covered himself in glory, although at least Brendon McCullum stepped up with the bat during the England series (and stepped up with his captaincy, although we should judgement on that till later on). In saying that, what is McCullum to do?
    1) He could stay quiet and be accused of tacit guilt.
    2) He could find a sympathetic journalist and get called out for finding a sympathetic journalist (a la Lance Armstrong and Oprah)
    3) Or he goes through the courts, which is messy, but could provide some closure by the end of it (a la Cairns and Lalit Modi).
    In your piece, you didn’t mention Ross Taylor’s role in all of this. While his demotion was pretty unsavoury and unfortunate, he hasn’t helped the cause by continually offering sweet nothings to the media, as if the whole thing was a soap opera (which, in future years, it could be with a good screenwriter).
    Perhaps, they could put Taylor, McCullum, Hesson, White and Parker on Campbell Live and let John sort them out.

    • True, Taylor burned a lot of political capital by not keeping quiet after the Auckland draw.

      In terms of McCullum’s options, I think he would have been best served by 1) In the wake of the England series, public opinion has very clearly swung in his favour. At the end of the day, if results are good, nobody really cares what happens behind the scenes, and him limping around the field trying desperately to rally the troops for a final push is a powerful image.

      The reaction when Taylor was first dropped is a testament to this. He had just won a test for New Zealand, almost single handedly too, and was then unceremoniously dumped. There would have been no controversy whatsoever had that have been anything other than a win.

      As for option 2) the difference there is that Armstrong was disgraced, and trying to seek PR absolution through Oprah’s couch. McCullum would be coming at the interview from a position of strength. It would have been all too easy for him to make Parker and co look like a bunch of washed up shit-stirrers, had he played it correctly. By taking the legal route, it makes it seem like there is more substance to the allegations in Parker’s report, otherwise why bother silencing him?

      And that is one episode of Campbell I would watch for sure.

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