AUCKLAND: Former Test batsman Gary Stead was confirmed on Wednesday as coach of the New Zealand cricket team, succeeding Mike Hesson who resigned unexpectedly in June.
Stead, 46, was a journeyman opening bat, playing just five Tests in 1999 before being dropped. But later he established a successful coaching career with Canterbury province and the New Zealand women’s team.
He was one of several leading New Zealand-based coaches interviewed for the national coaching role which Hesson left on June 7.
Starts two-year stint from Pakistan series in UAE
Hesson was New Zealand’s longest-serving coach and one of their most successful coaches. In appointing his successor New Zealand Cricket (NZC) sought a candidate who would ensure continuity, adopting a similar style to Hesson who has been widely applauded for the success he achieved while installing a culture of fair play in the New Zealand team. Hesson announced his departure in June, even though he had a year left on his contract, saying he had run out of steam and wanted to spend more time with his family.
He oversaw improvements in all formats of the game, but the highlight of his six-year tenure was New Zealand’s appearance in the final of the 2015 World Cup.
Stead was a member of a Canterbury team which dominated New Zealand domestic cricket in the 1990s, playing 101 first-class matches. As coach he guided Canterbury to four domestic titles in four years between 2013 and 2017.
He also coached the New Zealand women to finals of 50-over World Cup and World Twenty20.
Stead served briefly as New Zealand batting coach last year in the absence of regular coach Craig McMillan.
Stead was given a two-year contract and said he wanted to continue the improvement the Black Caps had shown under Hesson. He joins the team nine months out from the next ICC World Cup in England.
He also briefly had a stint as batting and support coach for the Black Caps in the 2016-17 summer.
“It’s a matter of helping maintain New Zealand’s strong form on the international scene but also respecting what’s happened over the past four or five years by continuing to push for improvement,” he said. “This is a well-established and high-performing Black Caps side with an excellent captain in Kane Williamson and a real desire to win series and titles.
“It’s a real honour and privilege to be part of that and I can’t wait to get started.” NZC chief executive David White said Stead emerged as the outstanding candidate in a recruitment process which included feedback from current New Zealand players.
“We’re delighted for Gary,” White said. “He has excellent qualifications, a solid temperament, vast experience and is open to innovation.”
Former batsman Peter Fulton said Stead would build on Hesson’s legacy.
“He’ll be very well organised, a lot of detail and a really good thinker about the game,” he told Radio Sport. “New Zealand Cricket have made it pretty obvious they were keen for someone who’s going to come in and not rock the boat too much.”
Stead takes up his contract on Sept 1 and will lead the New Zealand team for the first time in Test, One-day International and Twenty20 International series against Pakistan in the United Arab Emirates from late October.
Published in Dawn, August 16th, 2018