- Publish Date
- Saturday, 11 March 2023, 9:30AM
By Albie Redmore
Former Black Caps captain Ken Rutherford believes those at the top of New Zealand Cricket are to blame for an ageing side that’s been largely struggling on the world stage for several years.
Speaking to Newstalk ZB’s D’Arcy Waldegrave on Thursday, Rutherford has questioned how much the organisation is doing to foster the young talent required to replace a current crop of players who have started to show signs of being past their best since winning the World Test Championship in 2021.
“That was probably the juncture, where you could look at things as a selector or a high performance unit and say ‘look, this bunch of players is gonna be three to five years older in three to five years’ time, they can’t keep going forever, so maybe we’ve got to start looking at what’s underneath’.
“Our performances in white ball as well as red ball cricket have decreased in terms of quality, the turnover of players has increased also... but very few of them have performed at the necessary level.
“So we’ve got a problem now where we have an ageing test side who are still performing okay - that test match win at the Basin probably taped over a few cracks to be perfectly honest - but we’ve got to look at this World Cup coming up... and the next four-year cycle and make some plans around it.”
Rutherford believes the Black Caps’ current test squad is a great example of where the selection committee have gone wrong, particularly within the bowling ranks where the likes of Blair Tickner (29) and Scott Kuggeleijn (31) have recently earned starting roles.
“They aren’t the future and really in both those cases I was surprised to see them picked, quite frankly, for that test in Mount Maunganui and bowling in tandem because they’re very similar in the way they bowl... so I wonder about the captaincy in that regard but anyway, that’s another point.
“Bowling reserves and stocks are of more concern because the next group down are of that age around the 30s.”
Rutherford says one just has to look at the makeup of the most recent New Zealand A squad, as well as domestic cricket’s own rapidly-ageing squads, to see why only older players seem to be available in reserve for the Black Caps.
“Look, New Zealand A, you’d think that would be the next group of players that are coming through to play test and one-day and T20 cricket for the main New Zealand side in the next three to five years... 29 or 30 is probably the average age.”
He points to the inclusion of 23-year-olds Matthew Fisher and Rachin Ravindra as the only examples of unquestioned youth within that squad and why it’s a recipe for disaster in the near future.
“You’ve got this whole group now of 25 to 30 players who are our best cricketers, in the next two or three years they’re probably going to be past their best, if not some that already are. So you’ve got to look from a high-performance perspective and say ‘something’s been overlooked’.”
For Rutherford, the responsibility to plan effectively for the future of the Black Caps lies with those in the upper echelon of New Zealand Cricket and, right now, he says they are not stepping up.
“I think it’s hard for the High Performance Centre and the guys in charge and involved on a day-to-day basis there to offload any responsibility in this regard.
“There’s a multitude of issues here but all of that have to be managed at the top and whatever the process is and the policies are in terms of giving younger players a go at provincial level, that still has to be managed and governed at the top.”
For now, Rutherford says he’s frustrated with how the current team is performing and he’d love to see some younger talent shake up a team that appears to be treading water.
“In terms of the wider picture, in terms of the coaching etcetera, we do look stale... not just personality-wise but the way we’re playing just looks stale, everything just seems very familiar, very same.”
This article was first published on nzherald.co.nz and is republished here with permission
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