McCullum opens up on Taylor fallout

Updated March 23, 2020

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Taylor apparently tried to keep McCullum from becoming captain. — AP/File
Taylor apparently tried to keep McCullum from becoming captain. — AP/File

WELLINGTON: Former New Zealand captain Brendon McCullum has opened up on his fallout with longtime team-mate Ross Taylor.

Speaking in an interview on Sky Sports Podcast, McCullum — now the head coach of Indian Premier League franchise Kolkata Knight Riders — recalled that New Zealand Cricket (NZC)’s decision to implement a public process to elect New Zealand’s new captain after Daniel Vettori decided to step down from the role, in which Taylor pipped him to get the job, created tensions between the two cricketers.

“That’s exactly what it was, shocking. And it put some pressure on my friendship and relationship with Ross. I have a lot of development and under-age cricket with Ross. I was the captain of the under-19 team and Taylor was my vice-captain. We’ve always got on really well,” the former wicket-keeper/batsman said.

“We had to go for an interview for the job. It was about presenting the map for the future of New Zealand cricket to a panel. I don’t really know what we were doing. If I had my time, I would’ve said ‘No I’m not going to come and go through the process, you appoint Ross as captain and then we’ll see what unfolds from there’”, he added. “It’s a bad stain for New Zealand cricket and put pressure on Ross and me. Then it led me to eventually take over the captaincy from Ross.”

Taylor was appointed the captain in 2011 but he did not get along well with the then head coach, Mike Hesson. After a Test series in Sri Lanka, which ended in a 1-1 draw, Taylor was removed as the national side captain, with McCullum getting the job. The former Black Caps star said that Taylor was asked if he would prefer a split-captaincy option with McCullum, but he had refused.

“I was asked if I wanted to take over the role of New Zealand captain in all three formats. So initially, I told them I would get back to them. I needed to think long and hard thought it. I knew it would be a major controversial decision. I knew it could have major ramifications on NZ Cricket, but also on my time as a player. I sat down with my wife, and said ‘you are the best equipped to do it, if it doesn’t work out, it doesn’t work out, but you’re the best equipped to do it’. So I gave them a call, and said I would do it,” McCullum said.

“Ross had turned down the Test captaincy role. I don’t know what happened the time. There was a lot of controversy. New Zealand Cricket has moved on from that time now,” he said.

Speaking on his relations with Taylor now, McCullum added:“We are not best friends. I have immense amount of respect for him. He has lovely family, had a great career. He is at peace and content in his personal life. He has done really, really well.”

On being questioned about the SriLanka tour which led to the changing of the guard, McCullum said:“We played game differently. It was also noticeable that there was a bit of a divide between how Ross would want to play the game, and how Mike Hesson would like to coach the game. They were not getting on that well. I was having a pretty average tour with the bat. I was trying to lend a support to the leadership role.”

McCullum was known to be in good terms with the head coach, Hesson, and there were lot of media reports surfacing at the time that the New Zealand stalwart is trying to stay close to Hesson to try and lobby for the captaincy position. Addressing the same, McCullum said:“If you follow the reports, it was reported that I was lobbying to Mike for Ross’ position. I was very mindful of the fact that there is a process to go through. But I also knew that if this relation breaks down, then Mike may want me.”

Published in Dawn, March 23rd, 2020