New Zealand cricket August 23, 2009

Vettori and Moles aware of pitfalls of increased power

Top Curve
Selector's view
  • Glenn Turner, the chairman of New Zealand's selection panel, thinks the formal appointment of the captain and coach as national selectors opens up many possibilities.
  • "One of the upsides to it is that we have got a lot of experience on the panel," Turner told Cricinfo. "Obviously John Wright, who is an advisor, Mark Greatbatch and myself have a lot of experience, having been coaches previously and captains and so on. It gives us an opportunity to express our thoughts, and be of some assistance to the captain and coach in the jobs they do."
  • Turner said there will be more discussion between selectors and the coach and captain since Moles's and Vettori's workload will increase a lot. "Because they have to present their cases to the panel now, whereas previously they had inputs and their views on what they like to see, but that was generally just verbalised, but now that you become a fully fledged selector, a lot more time has to go into it."
  • The biggest, and the most obvious, reservation behind such a move is the effect it can have on the player-captain and the player-coach relationship. "There's a lot of varying arguments, about conflicts of interest and so on. That's probably why it hasn't been done before. But now that we have decided to go down that path, it will be very interesting to see how it does work out, and all of those possible issues, how they unfold."
Bottom Curve
Daniel Vettori and Andy Moles, New Zealand's captain-coach duo, have said being appointed national selectors merely formalises the role they were already playing. The big difference, though, is that they now have voting rights in the selection panel, unlike other captains and coaches who can only suggest what team they want.

"I suppose this a continuation of what I have been doing," Daniel Vettori said in a teleconference from Colombo. "When you sit on in charge of a lot of things and because you are responsible for the team's performance, you want to have some control on selection. The whole way through it hass been pretty much that way, with the relationship we had with other selectors, now it just formalises it. When you anyway sit on selection meetings, it seems appropriate to make it as formal as possible." On tours, though, like other teams, Vettori and Moles used to select the XI from the 15 players they had.

Once he settled into his captaincy role, Vettori felt he needed more control in selection matters, and discussed it with New Zealand Cricket (NZC). "I realised that while you are away on tour, you are directing a lot of things that go on, sometimes you feel a little bit removed of the selection group that's at home," Vettori said. "If it all comes together, it just makes things a little bit easier. I have been able to have a good relationship with them [the other selectors] so far. This move just means I feel we are on an equal footing and we have an equal say. Sometimes if you don't have that it doesn't make it as clear as you want it to be."

Both men, though, understand the implications this move might bring in their relationship with players. The captain and, especially, the coach, are the men who act as a buffer between the selection panel and a player. They are the men who convey to the players where they actually stand, despite being picked or being dropped. The players trust them, confide in them. This move could affect that player-captain-coach relationship.

It's a state of affairs explained eloquently by Richie Benaud in The Appeal of Cricket. "My independent spirit wanted to be totally in charge of the team," he wrote. "If I had sat in on proceedings at the selection committee, and had pressed for a player or players to be either included or left out, I have no doubt that would have been reflected at some stage in my captaincy on the field … I could use players on the field as I wished, not as we might have all decided had I been part of the selection committee."

But Moles said it was up to him to build relationships with players. "So that they feel they are given the one message from the selection group to them. Hopefully this will be a continuation of where we are at the moment, where the players feel they can be honest with me. So I feel that isn't a problem."

When Moles first joined nine months ago, he didn't want to have a say in the selections, but he now feels he has gained enough trust with the players. "When I first came on board, I remember I wanted to get to know the players and build a relationship and see how they tick," he said. "Nearly a year down the line, they know how I like to operate, I certainly know how they play the game, how they like to be treated. Now we are just moving on to the next phase of the relationship, which is to become a selector as well. I don't see that as a problem."

For Vettori the situation is clear: "If you look back, and say, if Stephen Fleming was made the selector, I would have complete faith in him."

He knows, though, that this will be a tricky association now that the players will know he is directly responsible for them being in the squad or out of it. "I hope the players see it in an objective way. As they know me, I can be an objective person. That I will judge them on their performances. The guys will hopefully have a lot of faith in me.

"There are guys who are good friends, and one day I might have to sit them and say that I was a part of the process that left them out. You have to take that responsibility on, the harsher nature of those selections. That is something I want to be prepared for if I want to have a say in the selections."

As far as the other aspect, judging the quality of a player goes, Vettori is clear he won't be out of place being a selector. "Hopefully I will bring a level head to the job, someone who knows the players very well," he said. "While I don't get to watch as much domestic cricket as I would like to, and as much as the selectors do, I do know how the players work and I do understand when they are in form and when they are not there."

Sidharth Monga is a staff writer at Cricinfo