New Zealand, who faced a complete whitewash in the five-match T20I series, will be mentored by bowling coach Shane Jurgensen for the three ODI fixtures. The leave has sparked outrage with former captain Jeremy Coney being at the forefront of critics.
"This is probably the most important season we've had for 10 years, with no Zimbabwe, Bangladesh and West Indies to feast on," ESPNcricinfo quoted Coney as telling Radio Sport Breakfast. "We're facing the three big boys (Australia, India, and England). They were marmalised in Australia and it's now five-zip at home. Wouldn't you think the main coach and selector would be there?
"Can you see Steve Hansen leaving the All Blacks after they are one-nil down against the Lions, and taking a week off before the second Test? This is the job and this is the main part of the season. It's ridiculous this is happening at this crunch time. You don't take your captain away from the helm when you are wanted most, when the ship is in deep shook, amongst the rocks," Coney added.
Meanwhile, David White, the NZC chief executive, has defended the break citing workload issues. "Player and support staff's workload is a big issue in international cricket," White said. "We lost our last coach, Mike Hesson, to workload issues. We want to make the role sustainable going forward. That is why Gary is having the week off this week."
However, Coney calls this break a "desertion".
"Would you call it desertion or would you just say, 'It's really bad look fellas'? If I was David White I would say to myself, no I'm sorry Gary, you can wait a week. If you are really finding it tough and have to be away from the family, let's have a chat and find another coach for the T20 format.
"I'm quite annoyed about it. I've heard they want to freshen up for the other challenges ahead after this series. What? What? What series are they? They've got three T20 and three ODIs versus Australia. They have the rest of March off, all of April, all of May, a couple of weeks in June off, then we face the might of Ireland, Scotland and West Indies.
However, White defends Stead. "I can understand the passion."
"It has been a challenging time for us but this planning was done six months ago. Please go back and look at the schedule: World Cup, tour to Sri Lanka, then full tour by England, then going to Australia, then playing India now.
"It has been a big time commitment. It is not just Gary, we are constantly rotating the support staff, so we can manage the workload. Of any sport in New Zealand, the one that has the most demand for time is cricket. These guys are away for a long time, so we must manage their workload," he added.
Former New Zealand all-rounder Craig McMillan had earlier said that in order for the Black Caps to earn passing marks against the Men in Blue, they needed to defeat India in at least two of the three series (5 T20Is, 3 ODIs and 2 Test matches).
Having faced a 5-0 hiding in the T20Is, the focus is now on the ODIs and Test matches where New Zealand can stage a comeback and return to winning ways.
( With inputs from IANS )