New Zealand news January 30, 2010

Greatbatch makes batting his top priority


Less than a day into his role as New Zealand coach, Mark Greatbatch has chalked out an immediate priority: to help the pool of batsmen play to the top of their game. Greatbatch, who was today appointed head coach after a four-month void following Andy Moles' resignation in October, has identified batting as an area New Zealand have a lot of work to do on.

"In Test cricket you need to take 20 wickets and you also need to score a decent amount of runs. In the past, we have taken wickets but haven't scored enough runs and that is one area we are looking to improve," he told Cricinfo after a long Saturday.

Greatbatch, who played for New Zealand between 1988 and 1996, will perform the dual responsibility of being part of the national selection panel along with his new appointment. Interestingly, despite being head coach, it is reportedly understood that Greatbatch's primary focus will remain the batting department with Daniel Vettori continuing to hold the rights on decision-making concerning strategies and selections. The appointment just puts an official stamp on the duties that Greatbatch has already been performing in the last few months.

In the aftermath of Moles' resignation, NZC declared they were in no hurry to fill the breach. In the interim they decided to seek help from within their own ranks. During the ODI series against Pakistan in Abu Dhabi, where Greatbatch had accompanied the team as a touring selector, he was asked by NZC if he would like to act as a batting consultant. "I went to Abu Dhabi with the team as a selector in November and got involved with the team helping the batsmen," he said. "At the same time NZC were looking for a replacement for Andy Moles, so they approached me and asked if I would consider an extra role as part of the coaching staff."

The more they talked, the more excited Greatbatch became about the job. "The initial role was predominantly working with the batsmen and helping Dan with any other areas as a captain," he said.

Today, both NZC and Vettori acknowledged the positive impression Greatbatch had made and admitted that clinched him the offer. Greatbatch has already begun talking about pushing forward plans that were set in motion about six months ago. "John Wright and Martin Crowe have been working closely with some of the players outside the Black Caps system on technical and tactical areas to get the best results," he said. "We also have Glenn Turner on the selection panel, so we have a lot of very good people in our group and it is a matter of utilising them to the fullest and that is going to be the key area through which we are going to improve as a group."

Greatbatch has two previous stints as coach, the first as coaching director at his native Central Districts and then a curtailed two-year experience with Warwickshire with whom he had signed a three-year contract at the end of 2005.

His first assignment will be against Bangladesh next week. New Zealand have been robbed of three quality fast bowlers who formed one part of their recent successes. Shane Bond's fairytale return lasted one victorious Test, Ian O'Brien conceded domestic life was more appealing than finding ways to break through the defence of an opponent, and Kyle Mills has yet to fully recover from injury. In the batting department, the highly-talented Jesse Ryder has been waylaid by a stomach muscle injury.

Greatbatch, though, was unruffled and pointed out that his duty was to find out more about the players and what worked best for them, after which the task was to develop it. "As a coaching group, we need to help find the players their A game and work very hard with them on that and help them develop in their practice and repeat it then we can get stronger and more consistent," he said.

He has his own methods. It is a little bit unique to him but again he has found his A game. He consistently performs with both ball and bat and is a great leader.
Greatbatch on Daniel Vettori

But New Zealand, who in 2009 reached the final of the ICC Champions Trophy in South Africa and defeated Pakistan in a thrilling victory in Dunedin, their first win in 13 months, face a stern test in March when Australia arrive to play a full series. "The Aussies are looming," Greatbatch said, "But we are working on improving our Test ranking. We had a very good Test series against Pakistan in December but unfortunately it rained despite us playing well. We are making some progress."

New Zealand will then travel extensively in the Indian subcontinent with a proposed tri-series in Sri Lanka in July, with India the third team, followed by a tour of Bangladesh and then a full tour of India before the World Cup next March.

Greatbatch understood the various challenges in the pipeline but was relaxed. His source of confidence remains the same as that of the whole of New Zealand: his captain, Vettori. "I admire the way he plays," Greatbatch said in praise of Vettori, who started his career when his was ending. "He has his own methods. It is a little bit unique to him but again he has found his A game. He consistently performs with both ball and bat and is a great leader. He is nice and relaxed in the dressing room and I'm looking forward to complementing that."

Nagraj Gollapudi is an assistant editor at Cricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Brent on January 31, 2010, 21:46 GMT

    Good move I reckon. Just don't give Martin Crowe too much say on the technical side. He calls a hit over cover the "whackity-doo!" and the big shot over midwicket the "smackarooni!"..."for half a dozen"....sigh. Also notice how he bagged NZ players for holding the bat high in stance in the recent tests?...Vettori does the same thing but apparently has "Great technique". As far as a batting coach goes, have they looked at current/past staff at NSW or VIC? Bring in some new ideas from across the ditch.

  • Narayanan on January 31, 2010, 14:50 GMT

    Greatbatch is a very good choice as a Coach to NZ . I don't know how many of them remember but he was the one who tried to dominate the bowlers in the first 15 overs which was later followed by Jayasuriya and others. But NZ really need a full time bowling coach as well.

  • Abhijeet on January 31, 2010, 12:15 GMT

    There is no iota of doubt that Dan is the best slow bowler in the world at present. A lovely smiling bespectacled cricketer who is such a big influence not just on his side but on the opponents too.

    Kepe it up Dan. Wish you all the luck and hope to see more of you in the future.

  • Lee on January 31, 2010, 3:02 GMT

    Good ole Greatbatch! I bowled him out in the nets at Blenheim when I was about 11 not long after the 92 world cup. Answered a Q, who was the highest run scorer (Martin Crowe!) to score a big signed poster too! Thanks for the memories Paddy, good luck as coach!

  • Stephen on January 30, 2010, 23:54 GMT

    Stephen Fleming came out and said he has no interest in coaching other than his IPL team the Chennai Super Kings. He said that his IPL experience will show him whether or not he enjoys coaching cricket, meaning he would consider and international position in years to come. He also came out early and said he was not interested in coaching NZ at this point in time as he felt he is still to close to the players, having played with and captained many of them.

  • Dummy4 on January 30, 2010, 23:47 GMT

    After much speculation Fleming finally came out in the media to say he doesn't have the time or interest to be involved in NZ cricket due to family and business commitments. He would have been a great choice as he is a well respected "thinker of the game" and he and Vetorri have a good relationship.

    But Paddy Batch is a good choice, he comes across as a no nonsense kind of guy so hopefully he can knock a few of the BlackCaps into shape as they have talent but let us NZ fans down time and again. We don't have many but we do have some good players. He can start with Jesse Ryder, who needs a good role model and strong mentor - that guy could be one of the best if he sorts a few things out and Greatbatch is the man for that!

  • Shoaib on January 30, 2010, 23:41 GMT

    It amazes me that NZ continues to ignore John Wright. If there is one coach in the country that has proven credentials to run an international team, it is him.

  • Dorian on January 30, 2010, 19:40 GMT

    I think in the long run this could be good for NZ. They have a small population compared to the other full ICC members so should hold their head high (as their rugby union team does). My only concern is that GB seems to be walking on egg shells in the way he talks... the coaches these days are scared of annoying the captain Dan V. It was frustration with the system which made Dan push for more power and a say in the selection makeup - but a coach should compliment, argue and ultimately have the final say. With power comes responsibility. No offence to Dan V - a great player and captain - but has the time come to retract his extra powers?

  • David on January 30, 2010, 18:57 GMT

    sreeb - fleming can't/shouldn't hav a role with the team until all the players that he played with have left

  • sreebhushan on January 30, 2010, 17:54 GMT

    Ofcourse greatbatch is gr8 choice considering how he has changed the face of ODI cricket from 1992 WC persuits but How come Stephen flemming doesn't have a role in NZ cricket ? He has had great career wonderful tactical brain and he would be really helping Dan as a strategist. everybody know his exploits during many of hard fought Australian summers and also against india. He is a big Asset in NS cricket which unfortunately they are not able to utilize

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