Disappointed NZ team members stand after being denied a win by England in the third Test. (Getty Images)
Wellington: New Zealand Cricket has condemned as "hearsay, speculation and rumour" a report prepared by a group of former Test players that criticises its handling of the sacking of former Test captain Ross Taylor. The nine-page report, prepared by a group convened by former New Zealand captain John Parker, attacks the governance of New Zealand Cricket and the role in Taylor's sacking played by coach Mike Hesson, new captain Brendon McCullum and senior players.
Apart from Parker, those involved in preparing the report have refused to be named but are understood to include other former New Zealand captains. New Zealand Cricket said on Thursday it was "disappointed and saddened" that "some unnamed individuals" publicly have questioned the integrity of leading figures in the sport.
New Zealand media reported on Thursday that at least two high-profile figures within New Zealand Cricket had taken legal advice after being named in the report. While the report considers issues of the New Zealand Cricket's governance, its relationship with the media and its performance in other areas, it concentrates particularly on the sacking of Taylor late last year.
New Zealand Cricket said the report focuses "almost entirely on attempting to re-litigate the issues surrounding the replacement of Ross Taylor as Black Caps captain." The report is particularly critical of the system that saw Hesson appointed New Zealand coach and his subsequent decision to replace Taylor with McCullum, a long-time friend.
McCullum has repeatedly denied any involvement in Taylor's sacking and said he made no commitment to assume the captaincy until after the removal of Taylor had occurred. He told reporters at the time that "it cuts right to the bone that people would question your integrity and your character like that. To be totally honest, it's highly insulting for people to cast aspersions when they certainly don't know any of the circumstances," McCullum said. "I had absolutely no involvement in that recommendation [to remove Taylor] whatsoever."
In a statement on Thursday, New Zealand Cricket said it "utterly rejects the attack made on Brendon McCullum. At no time was Brendon McCullum in any way personally involved in the replacement of Ross Taylor as captain. Brendon behaved honourably at all times in this matter. He has subsequently gone on to prove himself an excellent leader and an inspiration to both younger and older members of the team and the results of his efforts have since been seen an improved Black Caps performance on the field.
"The allegations raised by John Parker and the anonymous group of critics are divisive, untrue and reflect poorly on them rather than the players they have wrongly attacked."
The Parker report said the group found younger members of the New Zealand team were supportive of Taylor but some older players had agreed with his removal. It identifies former captain Daniel Vettori, allrounder Jacob Oram, fast bowler Kyle Mills and Nathan McCullum - Brendon's brother - as being among those senior players who had not been supportive of Taylor.
The report says Brendon McCullum "knew all along of Hesson's movements regarding the stripping of the captaincy from Taylor, according to certain players."
"Claims of poor communication by Taylor came from the senior players, not the younger players. Sources close to Taylor and others who have been part of the team in various roles say this was in fact the older players - McCullum, Nathan McCullum, Kyle Mills, Jacob Oram and Daniel Vettori - because Taylor would not drink with them in the bar, according to the report. It was not coming from most of the younger players, who were very pleased with Taylor.
Taylor told reporters shortly after New Zealand drew the third Test and their series against England last month that the full facts around his sacking had yet to emerge. He said he could not feel entirely comfortable within the current New Zealand team until those facts were revealed.