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April 19, 2011
John Buchanan could take up a place on New Zealand's selection panel as part of his new role as the country's director of cricket. Buchanan was appointed on Friday to take control of the high-performance sector of New Zealand Cricket and immediate tasks in his wide-ranging brief include overseeing the appointment of a new captain and selectors.
The existing three-man panel of Lance Cairns, Mark Greatbatch and chairman Glenn Turner come off contract at the end of the month, and one option would be to make the coach John Wright a selector. However, Buchanan is also considering whether he, as the man with ultimate responsibility for the high-performance programme, should be on the panel himself.
"That's something that I'm tossing around at the moment," Buchanan told ESPNcricinfo. "There's every chance, but in the next couple of months it's going to be very important to listen to a whole range of people and get their views and work out some of the logistics and practicalities of what I do. Certainly it's an option at the moment."
Buchanan's four-year deal officially begins next month and he will need to hit the ground running, with the choice of Daniel Vettori's successor as captain being another key decision. But regardless of who gets the job, Buchanan does not want the captain to be overburdened, as often appeared to be the case with Vettori.
"The two front-runners are Ross Taylor and Brendon McCullum," Buchanan said. "John Wright is going to be pretty critical to that decision, because ultimately the captain and coach are going to have to work very closely together. His advice and his thoughts will be pretty important in terms of making a final decision.
"One of the things we'd like to be able to achieve is to create greater leadership capacity in any side that New Zealand puts on the field - whether they're given a formal title as captain or vice-captain should be almost irrelevant. Individual players should be able to step up, and that means making good decisions more consistently than what they have done currently. That's one of the targets we'll be trying to put in place."
That sort of accountability among players, coaches and support staff is likely to be a major plank of Buchanan's strategy for stretching New Zealand to reach new heights. And although he hopes to leave the day-to-day business of coaching to Wright, he has not entirely ruled out the possibility of having a more active role when New Zealand head to Australia in November for a Test series.
"Ideally I'll be hands-off," he said. "John Wright is the coach, and we'll have a captain in place and he'll have his support staff. Ultimately they need to be accountable for their performances. Hopefully we're pretty close by that stage with that group of people that I won't have too much of a role at all. But if not, then I'll be around.
"I see it as having to be a very close partnership [with Wright]. He coaches the pointy end of the high-performance program. If the Black Caps are not performing then it means we're not doing things the right way. He and I need to work closely together and I'm very confident we can do that."
It will be important for the two men to work out the demarcation between their roles, especially given Buchanan's history as a head coach. During his eight years at the helm of Australia, Buchanan helped the side win three World Cups and a record 16 consecutive Test matches, but he had at his disposal champion players like Shane Warne, Glenn McGrath and Adam Gilchrist.
Getting the same results from New Zealand might be an unrealistic goal, but Buchanan is looking forward to the challenge of driving the team to punch above its weight. And he believes that merely by creating the director of cricket position, NZC has shown itself to be one of the most forward-thinking organisations in world cricket.
"I think it's a role that's long overdue in cricket, and whether I got the position or didn't get the position, I applauded the step that New Zealand have taken," he said. "They're a little bit disadvantaged in the way of resources, so they have to be much smarter with what they do have, a little bit more innovative and creative about how they use what they have got."
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