England cricket should use New Zealand as a template to rebuild on and off the pitch, says former Australian captain Steve Waugh.
The Poms, on tour in the West Indies, have endured a disastrous 12 months culminating in their shock group-stage exit from this year’s World Cup.
The Kiwis, on the other hand, surprised many on their way to the final against Australia under the inspirational leadership of skipper Brendon McCullum.
Barely two years earlier, New Zealand were in a hole – bowled out for 45 by South Africa in the first innings of a Test match in Cape Town.
Waugh says England need to have a plan, believe in it and stick to it.
And while it mightn’t work straight away, the results will come.
“I think the blueprint is New Zealand cricket over the last couple of years,” he said in Shanghai ahead of the Laureus World Sports Awards.
“They seemed to be in real strife two or three years ago, and people were saying they’re not competitive in Test cricket and ok in one-day cricket.
“But you’ve seen what they’ve done over the last two years with a positive attitude.
“They’ve changed their pitches – the pitches in New Zealand are much quicker and bouncier, which promotes much better cricket; it’s also encouraged fast bowlers and strokeplay and you see they’re much more positive in their cricket.
“There’s also been some good things happen behind the scenes there. They’ve found a really good positive leader who’s encouraged the players to play their natural way and not be scared of failure.”
Asked whether Alastair Cook was the right man to lead England going into this year’s Ashes series, Waugh said only time would tell.
“He’s a fantastic player but, at some stage, you’ve got to ask the question: is he motivating other players around him? Is he getting the best out of his teammates?
“I think he’s done a pretty good job; he’s copped a lot of criticism.
“In six to 12 months, we’ll see whether he is the right captain.”
Waugh reiterated his view against bringing exiled batsman Kevin Pietersen back into the side, believing England needed to make a clean break and look to the future.
“I’d see it as a stop-gap measure so, personally, I don’t think I’d go back to what was happening before,” he said.
“Obviously in the past, there’s been some issues and that’s part of the reason he’s not there now. Unless he’s changed as a person and a personality – and that’s pretty hard to do – then I don’t know why you’d go back.”