Gary Stead, the former New Zealand and Canterbury batsman, has been named Mike Hesson’s successor. He will take over as New Zealand coach for a two-year term, following Hesson’s resignation from the post in June.
This means Stead will oversee New Zealand’s run to the 2019 World Cup; he already has some experience in the matter, having coached New Zealand’s women’s side to the final of the 2009 World Cup and 2010 World T20.
Stead, 46, has also previously worked with New Zealand’s High-performance Centre between 2004 and 2008, and took over as Canterbury coach in 2012, leading them to four titles in four seasons from 2013-14 to 2016-2017. He also worked as New Zealand batting coach for a period in 2016-17.Here are players who’ve worked under Gary Stead previously, speaking to the New Zealand Herald.Peter Fulton, who captained Canterbury through much of Stead’s time there as coach:“He’s probably the most organised coach I played under. He never left anything to chance with his planning. That will be important at international level. Teams can be on the road nine or 10 months a year, and players want to know everything will be taken care of so they can worry about performance.“When he first coached Canterbury, he was strong at putting his opinions across, and I think he still is. I don’t think he’ll be shy challenging players if he thinks there’s a way they can get better, or if there’s something different they can be doing. He won’t be afraid to make tough decisions.”Aimee Watkins, the NZ women’s captain who worked a lot with Stead:“I found him easy to work with. Some of the comments about his black-and-white management style or as an old-school coach hit the nail on the head from what I experienced. I have a lot of respect for him.“He challenged us, and that’s the role of the coach: bring new ideas, offer solutions, and don’t let people get too comfortable and stale. “He’s a meticulous planner who thinks things through. He’s not the type of coach who gives a big pep-talk at the end of the day.”
In 1999, Stead played his five Tests for New Zealand, batting in the top order and never being dismissed in single digits. He hit two half-centuries, with a top score of 78 against India in India. That knock, a gritty, second-innings blockathon – his 78 came off 173 balls – helped New Zealand draw the Ahmedabad Test after playing out 95 overs. However, an average run against West Indies followed, and Stead never played for New Zealand again.
He comes with vast first-class experience though, having played 105 first-class matches, in which he scored 4984 runs at 32.15.
In replacing Hesson, who quit the coaching job a year ahead of schedule for personal reasons, Stead will have a tough act to follow. In his six years as coach, Hesson took New Zealand to new ground, their stirring run to the final in the 2015 World Cup and dominance at home in Test cricket being the chief highlights. Under Hesson, they won eight out of 11 Test series at home. In all, Hesson’s record reads: 21 wins and 21 losses in Tests, 65 wins and 46 losses in ODIs, and 30 wins and 26 losses in T20Is.
Stead knows World Cup 2019 will be his main goal, but he doesn’t want that to be his only focus. “I just want to see people keep getting better,” he said after being announced coach. “I continue to drive towards making players who are self-sufficient and can make good decisions on the field. I really get a kick out of seeing people improve.
“The World Cup is no doubt a strategic priority for New Zealand Cricket and it’s high on the agenda and I’m acutely aware of the importance of that, but there are other things that are important as well. I want to get to know their [players’] motivations and what makes them tick and how they want me to operate and how they feel I can get the best out of them as well. Those types of things are the most important things for me in the short term.”
Stead’s first assignment will be in October, when New Zealand play Pakistan in the UAE.