22 May 2015

England ripe for the taking

3:17 pm on 22 May 2015

The odds may never get better for the Black Caps to achieve a rare series win in England as they begin the first of two Tests against England at the home of cricket .

The last time New Zealand beat England in England was in 1999, a 2-1 series win in a four test series.

In 2004 England took a 3-0 clean sweep of the series and in 2008 enjoyed a 2-0 three-Test series win.

But England go into this series in turmoil.

Coach Peter Moores has been sacked in the wake of a horrendous World Cup campaign where England failed to get past pool play.

They have slumped to fifth on the Test rankings, having drawn a recent three-Test series against eighth-placed West Indies.

Throw into the mix the debacle over the non-return of explosive batsman Kevin Pietersen, and England would seem ripe for the picking.

Kevin Pietersen maybe popular with fans but he's not as popular with the England cricket hierarchy.

Kevin Pietersen maybe popular with fans but he's not as popular with the England cricket hierarchy. Photo: Photosport

But never doubt New Zealand Cricket's ability to shoot itself in the foot.

Just when smooth waters have been found, New Zealand Cricket manages to sail into stormy seas.

The departure of national selection manager Bruce Edgar is a cause for concern.

Do national selection manager Bruce Edgar (left) and coach Mike Hesson gamble on picking Ryder?

Bruce Edgar (left) and Black Caps coach Mike Hesson had developed a good rapport over the past couple of years Photo: Photosport

Edgar has been a key part of the Black Caps renaissance over the past couple of years. Just days after his departure the latest Test rankings emerged showing New Zealand has climbed two spots to third.

They will look to consolidate that when they begin the two-Test series at Lord's tonight in London.

New Zealand have also risen to third in the ODI rankings and sixth in the Twenty20 rankings.

It would be wrong to overplay Edgar's hand in all of this, but he has been a cog in the machine that has helped the Black Caps to Test series wins over the West Indies, India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.

And of course finishing runners-up at the recent World Cup.

Add in the departure of bowling coach Shane Bond and one cannot help but worry the zenith of this current side has been reached.

Just when the New Zealand team appears to have a bright future ahead with young players of the ilk of Kane Williamson, Tim Southee and Trent Boult leading the way and up and comers Jimmy Neesham and Matt Henry also on the scene, the mentors of such players disappear.

Bond and Edgar's departures are for very different reasons, but they formed part of the foundation that helped New Zealand field quite possibly its most complete cricket side ever.

The shame of it all is that Edgar's departure quite obviously boils down to a personality clash with New Zealand Cricket's second in charge, Lindsay Crocker.

Edgar is among the most respected and respectful people on the national cricket scene. He's not one to play political games and is more than willing to front up and tell a player why he hasn't made a team.

He's helped institute a culture in the Black Caps where players know their roles and what is expected of them, which has engendered a good team spirit that is obvious to see both on and off the field with this side.

Of course, just like any work environment, no one gets on all of the time and there are issues that need to be resolved.

Edgar is the kind of person who is willing to identify those and do something about them. While he had an input into changing the culture in the Black Caps, it is a shame his efforts to change the culture at New Zealand Cricket have not met with similar success.

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