In an unexpected move, Dunedin South MP Clare Curran today confirmed she would quit politics to take up a new role at New Zealand Cricket.
Curran said she would join New Zealand Cricket in April 2013 as Senior Communications Manager.
Her new role will be to manage the organisation's internal and external communications, and to provide mentoring and strategic advice to the national side.
It is understood that the CEO of New Zealand Cricket offered her the job after being impressed with her work in developing the Labour Party's communications strategy, and her skills in managing conflict.
Curran said she had been attracted to the role by the opportunity to work with a group of dedicated, gifted and enthusiastic professionals, and to watch as the life was slowly squeezed out of them by inept and bumbling administrators with little or no experience of the pressures of test cricket.
"I am joining an organisation going from strength to strength," said Curran. "I've been impressed with how management handled the very difficult task of first isolating and then demoralising our best test player, to the point where he now needs a break from the game for the sake of his sanity.
"It's also a pleasure to be working so closely with other leading Otago people. Mike Hesson is doing a great job, although I know he's been subjected to a fair bit of criticism. That's where I can help," said Ms Curran.
Although her day to day role would be managing both internal and external communications within New Zealand Cricket, Curran said she would also take up a mentoring role within the organisation, helping coaching and management staff within the national men's side build a positive culture, one where failure was celebrated just as much as success.
"The main public focus has always been the Black Caps, and the public's insistence that the team wins more than the occasional game," said Curran.
"I'm absolutely committed to helping return the team to its former glory, but this won't happen until we get the team dynamic right. The players need to be able to trust and respect each other, and not be constantly worried about one-upmanship from their own team-mates.
"I'm going to be talking to the coaching staff about implementing a strategy that targets any player in the side with a test batting average of thirty or more, or a bowling average below thirty-five. We want to say to those players 'look it's all very well your going out there and performing consistently, but it makes the less talented guys feel bad about themselves. For the good of the team you need to stop!'
"Thankfully we don't have too many stand-outs in the team, so this strategy won't take long to implement."
Curran said she was confident her strategy would improve team unity.
"I've always believed that the cricket team that follows-on together stays together," said Curran.
Curran brings to the role years of expertise in communications. Her efforts in operating Labour's Red Alert blog and facilitating online political engagement have earned her the admiration and gratitude of many National Party MPs and supporters.
"Clare has been a huge inspiration," said prominent blogger and pollster David Farrar.
"It's a shame to see her move on. I thought she'd managed to get Labour's online strategy just about perfect for us."