Forty-Six-year-old Gary Stead has been appointed Coach of New Zealand Cricket.
He succeeds Mike Hesson who resigned in June, one year before his contract ended. Stead, a former Black Cap, played five test matches for New Zealand in 1999, was a top order batsman and a highly regarded player at Canterbury Cricket.
He comes from a family of Cricketers. His father David and brother Wayne played for Canterbury, and aunt Janice was in the New Zealand Women’s International team.
Stead beings with him more than ten years of coaching experience.
He started off at New Zealand Cricket’s high performance centre at Lincoln and graduated to taking charge of the White Ferns.
The team reached the finals of the World Cup in 2009. Stead then took over the Canterbury team and guided them to four national titles over a six-year period.
Stead is highly regarded for his analytical approach to the game and a sharp cricketing mind. He inherits a side that under Hesson and Captain Kane Williamson has established itself as a formidable force on the world circuit.
The squad is in an enviable position of being a young but experienced team.
It is a disciplined unit that has a settled core group of players.
The raging debate
Debate has long raged over the impact coaches can or do have on international cricket teams. Critics say that coaches cannot make a tangible difference to the playing style of a player, when they have broken into the national team.
According to them, that technique and style is well embedded in a player by that stage. “Coaches are merely props, who basically have more of an administration than technical role. Also it has been seen that being a successful player does not mean a successful transition into coaching,” they say.
Some of the better coaches of the modern era in John Buchannan, Mickey Arthur or even Hesson were not the biggest names on team sheets, but highly regarded as coaches.
A legend like Anil Kumble, though dubbed a ‘Headmaster,’ remained as a coach of the Indian team for just a year.
Incumbent Ravi Shastri a gritty cricketer, but better known to the present group of players as a respected commentator.
He was handed the job without having any prior coaching experience but has shown that the Coach has to be a good man manager to succeed.
In a dressing room full of big players and bigger egos, it is essential that a voice of unbiased sanity is heard, that carries the group together.
The Coach has to remain in the background, since at the end of the day, the team’s performance on the field has to be led by the Captain.
When a coach becomes over-bearing like Greg Chappell in his tenure with the Indian team, it leads to disharmony and poor results follow.
Beginning in the Middle East
Stead starts his tenure with a tour of the Middle East for a series against Pakistan in October. The Black Caps then return for a summer of cricket with teams from the sub continent. Sri Lanka, India and Bangladesh tour the country.
These tours will build up to the biggest trophy of the game, the World Cup, to be played in England in May 2019.
New Zealand and Stead know that the World Cup is a challenge that has not been surmounted yet.
New Black Caps Coach Gary Stead
Picture Courtesy: Andrew Cornaga/Photosport