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IPL $$$ speaks volumes for out-of-sorts Taylor

opinion

By Max Bania

Published: 11:28AM Thursday May 17, 2012 Source: ONE Sport

Time to disavow once and for all the suggestion that the Indian Premier League is about anything other than making money.

New Zealand's interest in the competition is at an all time low - partly for the above reason, and partly because New Zealand's contingent have barely caused a ripple this time around.

They have, however, caused headaches for the upcoming Black Caps tour of the West Indies.

Ross Taylor's wretched run of just 107 runs in nine innings makes a mockery of the decision to rush him back from a broken arm he suffered in a Test against the Proteas barely two months ago.

Taylor's second-ball duck for the Delhi Daredevils earlier in the week dropped his average to just 15, with a strike rate of less than 100. Even the commentators let him know his form wasn't up to scratch. A man who's destructive on-side hitting once made him one ofr Twenty20 cricket's most sought-after talents has found the boundary just six times all season.

Not that his Black Caps teammates have fared much better. Brendon McCullum's average is a modest 21.7 with just the one fifty, Jesse Ryder has been in and out of the Pune Warriors pending Michael Clarke's availablility, Daniel Vettori's form has been so poor he dropped himself, while Doug Bracewell has played just once.

New Zealand's two best performers, Ryder and James Franklin, aren't even on the West Indies tour, so their reasonable form is of no use to the national team anyway.

Like it or not - and it seems most people don't - the IPL is here to stay and there's no way of stopping the likes of Taylor from risking form and fitness in pursuit of the filthy lucre.

The shame for the rest of us is that the national captain is soon to be embarking on tour low on confidence, but worse still, with question marks over how successful his rehabilitation has been. The onus will be on Taylor now to prove us wrong by taking his good form from the Proteas Tests into the Caribbean.

Taylor still has a chance a IPL redemption, with his Daredevils guaranteed a finals spot. But in a competition so utterly-meaningless and money-driven, does anyone care? Except for maybe Taylor who is set to pocket up to $1 million.

*****

"It's not me, New Zealand cricket, it's you".

A fortnight on from John Wright's announcement that he'd be stepping down as Black Caps coach, it's time to accept this unfortunate yet predictable sporting breakup stemmed from Wright's realisation that he could do better than where he was.

Observers were quick to make John Buchanan, a man whose new-age ideologies clashed with the old school cricketer, which was a scapegoat for Wright's departure.

But it's likely that Wright would have walked away regardless of the Australian's presence.

And perhaps it's time for New Zealand Cricket to ask themselves, if they haven't already, why would he stay?

Perhaps only the head coaching role at the Blues represents more of a poisoned chalice in New Zealand sport than Wright's gig.

It's a thankless task, blighted by continual on-field underperformance, rumours of off-field underperformance, gruelling touring schedules, an unsympathetic public and, of course, interference from management.

Wright didn't need any of it. He might've relished the prospect of turning the Black Caps into an international force again, but he'd already done that with India and that's what the international fraternity will always remember him by.

Nor will he have a shortage of offers now he's a free agent. At his age it may be that he seeks a lower-profile role, although the riches of the IPL could well prove tempting.

In short, he'll surely not lose much sleep over his decision to walk away from the national team. Nor should we spend the summer wringing our hands over how he was so readily allowed to leave.

It's just a pity of Wright's tenure is that New Zealand Cricket didn't get their man years ago.

During the long pursuit of Wright, John Bracewell was allowed to advance his mad scientist theories, while Andy Moles, Daniel Vettori and Mark Greatbatch all played hot potato with the coach's hat.

Imagine how good Jesse Ryder could be now if Wright had been able to read the riot act to troubled talent four years ago.

What the likes of Martin Guptill and Daniel Flynn - two young openers who have at times exhibited Wright's famed tenacity at Test level - would've given for the chance to chew their mentor's ear for all that time.

By the time he did finally accept the job in 2010, he took charge of a flawed team.

Unfortunately, whoever takes on the baton following the West Indies tour faces a not-dissimilar predicament.

A replacement coach with Wright's credentials won't be found.

The challenge for NZC is to find a leader for whom turning the team around would be a career highlight.

It was never the case for Wright.

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