This content first appeared in Sport Review newsletter number thirteen – if you’d like to receive articles like this and much more every Friday, you can sign up here.
When Joni Mitchell wrote ‘you don’t know what you’ve got ’til it’s gone’, she probably had this golden BLACKCAPS era in mind. We’ve gone from one great captaincy run to the very start of another under coach Mike Hesson’s leadership, and after he dropped yesterday’s resignation bombshell, everyone on Twitter pretty much wanted someone to just carry on doing what he’s doing.
He’s made a monumental and worthy contribution – here’s a Mike Hesson top five:
5. Mikes Hesson and Sandle, Brendon McCullum and Bob Carter meet in a South African hotel room to lay out the plan for the team’s future, shortly after being bundled out for 45 in a Test innings. They set the blueprint for building a team with flair, a united culture and that New Zealanders could relate to and be proud of. We’re still reaping the benefits.
4. Planning, planning, planning. Remember when Grant Elliott was a surprise selection and Trent Boult wasn’t a white ball bowler? When was the last time we had so many all rounders? The preparation that goes into talent identification and team selections is meticulous in the extreme, and Mike’s hit rate is high.3. Just getting on with it. When he was appointed NZ coach, only people paying attention knew who he was, and the captaincy change meant he was well on the back foot with the talkback crowd from the start. He kept his head down and let the results speak for themselves, slowly revealing his deep thinking and dry humour as he went on. It wasn’t the Mike Hesson show, but he was running it.
2. Forming the right team around the team. The core support staff are the part of the story you don’t often hear about, but they’re a massive part of the consistency and results we’ve enjoyed over the last few years. These guys work super hard to make sure everyone knows their job, has what they need to succeed and the encouragement to pull it off.
1. Building one of the great eras in NZ cricket. We’re a tough Test team to beat, can take down anyone in ODIs and were even the number one bloody T20 side for a while there. We were World Cup finalists for the first time ever, hover in respectable Test ranking spots, and put together a really solid run of wins, especially at home. These are wonderful times to be a NZ cricket fan, and we’re well placed to build on what we have now, with the right appointment.
And so, rarely for an NZ cricket coach, he gets to leave the job with oodles of goodwill and on his own terms. If he ever sits down in Dunedin to write a book, I’d love to read it, as it’ll be more The Art Of Captaincy than Lifting The Covers. It’s a great shame he’s lost to the ICC Cricket Committee before he got started as he’d have loads to contribute.
Let’s see what happens next – if he does end up in the Big Bash or the IPL, he’ll Moneyball it like nobody’s business. And when they hand the trophy out, he’ll just be standing to the side, looking proud of his players and satisfied with doing his bit and a job well done. Go well.