Kim Littlejohn named New Zealand selector
New Zealand Cricket's journey towards the unconventional has continued with the appointment of a little-known Australian lawn bowls administrator as their new national selection manager (NSM). Kim Littlejohn, who has spent the past seven years with Bowls Australia, was preferred ahead of the interim selection manager, Mark Greatbatch, along with other former cricketers including Ken Rutherford and Glenn Turner.
It was a bold move from an appointment panel led by the NZC's director of cricket, John Buchanan, who in June announced the disbanding of the existing selection panel in favour of a two-man panel made up of the NSM and the national coach, John Wright. Buchanan said the new role was very different to the traditional selection role and required a specific skill set.
"A key part of the role will be accessing and utilising the wealth of knowledge that already exists within cricket, including first-class coaches, high performance staff and New Zealand's cricket experts - in that respect it is more inclusive than previous models," Buchanan said. "The selection panel agreed that Kim was the right fit for the role.
"Kim brings extensive experience from Bowls Australia where his operational skills and understanding of high performance sport were highly regarded. Although he is new to cricket in New Zealand I am confident his will mean he has no issue getting up to speed with new selection system, performance focused management, people management, and cultural change.
"It is worth noting that Mark Greatbatch provided invaluable input and expertise during his time in the acting NSM role. However, the selection panel decided that Kim was the candidate who best matched the requirements of the role with the appointment also endorsed by John Wright."
Greatbatch declined to comment on the decision on Friday. Earlier in the week, before the appointment was confirmed, the former selector Dion Nash said he held some concerns about the way Buchanan appeared to be experimenting with New Zealand's setup.
"You can feel it's a changing of the guard. It's not surprising," Nash told the Dominion Post. "My only reservation is that I feel like we're being exposed to a huge experiment. To me it's uncharted territory.
"We're putting a lot of faith in John Buchanan and the new system, which is not to say it's a bad thing, but it is quite experimental. The shame for me would be if someone who deserved to be picked, wasn't picked."
Littlejohn has been the high performance manager and national team manager with Bowls Australia, and he previously worked as operations manager for Baseball Victoria. He started his career as an investment banker, but he does have some cricket in his background, having played in the club competition in Western Australia and coached with Melbourne University.
Under the new structure, Littlejohn will be responsible for the selection of national teams for both men and women, and the under-age sides, and he will be advised by the six domestic first-class coaches. However, Wright has the final say on selection, which fits with Buchanan's push for more accountability.
Littlejohn will begin in his new role on September 19. The appointment panel consisted of Buchanan, the former fast bowler Shane Bond, and the NZC board member Brent King.