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Cricket, roads, and apologies

by Lindsay Shelton
An apology at the Basin Reserve from the chairman of the NZ Transport Agency? Well, yes and no. Chris Moller is not only chairman of the Transport Agency. He’s also chairman of New Zealand Cricket. Yesterday’s apology was in his cricketing capacity. He was apologising to former Black Caps captain Ross Taylor. A headline today calls it “Taylor-Gate…a sorry saga.”

For many of us, this is the first time we’d realised that Chris Moller held both jobs – the boss of roading as well as the boss of cricket.

Covering yesterday’s apology and press conference at the Basin Reserve, Jonathan Millmow reports in the DomPost:

Chris Moller looks shorter and older than the last time he appeared. He spends ten minutes reading from a prepared statement then invites questions but none on the captaincy…He talks about constitution. Many in the room want an execution…Moller is running the shop so tightly that he is asking his own questions and answering them.

Which is an echo of the way that Moller’s Transport Agency handled public consultation on roading changes around the Basin Reserve. It restricted public input to two options which it had chosen, and both of them were a flyover. It tried to stop the public from supporting non-flyover alternatives.

Barbed criticism of Chris Moller’s cricketing chairmanship was published yesterday by the DomPost. Its columnist Mark Reason wrote: [1]

The buck can’t stop with [Black Caps coach] Hesson … He is just the end of the current timeline. The start is when Chris Moller became chairman of New Zealand cricket in August, 2010. Since coming into the role Moller has overseen the appointment of a coach who couldn’t work with his director of cricket, he has lost a chief executive, and he has allowed a new coach to come in who sabotaged his captain. That captain was described, on Moller’s watch, as the outcome of a “robust” selection process and “the right man for the job”. It’s risible. It has also been remarked that Hesson was chosen by a panel that included Stephen Fleming, the manager and business partner of [new captain] Brendon McCullum. That is a grotesque conflict of interest that is all too common in the incestuous world of New Zealand cricket. Moller should take responsibility for this shambles. He has overseen an unstable period of intrigue and treachery.

The issue of conflict of interest having been raised, it’s time to ask questions about Chris Moller’s stance towards the Basin Reserve Trust’s controversial demands to be given a new grandstand to hide the flyover from cricketers. As chairman of both the roading and cricket organisations, has he had to declare a conflict of interest when this subject has been discussed? And how can it be possible for government roading funds to be used for a grandstand?

The DomPost’s Millmow also raises a question about Chris Moller’s multiple chairmanships:

Moller is chairman of four boards but denies he is distracted by his workload. The evidence suggests he might be.

So it becomes relevant to ask whether he’s had enough time to recognise the extent of local opposition to the flyover proposal. Has he had time to consider the two options which don’t involve a flyover? Has he asked his Agency to re-assess its opposition to Option X, as recommended by Opus Consultants in 2011? Has he asked it to work with Richard Reid on his widely-discussed option?

I haven’t read any criticism of Chris Moller’s chairmanship of the Transport Agency. But criticism of his chairmanship of NZ Cricket continues, with Stuff reporting [2] that a call for his resignation was made yesterday on LiveSport:

Former New Zealand batsman and national coach Mark Greatbatch is calling for New Zealand Cricket chairman Chris Moller to fall on his sword in the wake of the captaincy saga. Greatbatch is adamant Moller’s first move should be to resign … ”For me, the chairman of the board has been involved with too many underhand dealings in the last two or three years. I think it’s time for him to move on.”

There were no resignations, only the chairman’s apology at yesterday’s cricketing press conference. But ironically, in another part of town the Transport Agency was apologising too [3], after morning traffic was delayed by an equipment failure on State Highway One. The DomPost reported a 10km backlog from Johsonville back to Porirua. The Agency’s apology thanked drivers for their patience. Some drivers would have been just as angry as many in the cricketing world.

TV3: Chris Moller apologises to Ross Taylor and his family [4]