New Zealand news June 16, 2011

Accountability key to new structure - Buchanan

ESPNcricinfo staff

John Buchanan, the New Zealand director of cricket, has singled out the need for accountability as the main reason behind introducing a selection structure in the country that gives the head coach the final say in picking a squad. Buchanan, in a significant decision in his new role with New Zealand Cricket (NZC), dismantled the national selection panel, placing the responsibility of picking teams with the head coach along with a national selection manager - both posts are currently occupied by John Wright and in a caretaker capacity by Mark Greatbatch respectively - with the former taking the final call.

"The role of the coach needs to be elevated in terms of its authority around a group of people or a squad," Buchanan told Harsha Bhogle on ESPNcricinfo's Time Out audio show. "The team manager will have a significant role in that side as well, as indeed the captain. It's still, in a sense, not far removed from what existing cricket structures are, but the coach will be the one with the final say in most matters.

"In terms of selection it is designed to reduce the amount of noise around the squad - there can be so many people who can impact the way the team operates. So, we'll be appointing a national selection manager and that person's role is to design a system and process that enables the best choice of squads to be delivered to a head coach. The national coach and the national selection manager will pick the squad for a home or overseas series, and it's then ultimately up to the head coach who chooses the final side."

Most cricket boards have a multi-member selection panel, of which the coach is, in several cases, a part. Buchanan said the latest move, which leaves the coach with more decision-making powers, was an attempt to determine accountability for a team's performance. "That's a reasonable reflection on professional sport and professional cricket these days. The person who is definitely made accountable for how sides perform is the coach," he said. "One of the responsibilities that go with that accountability is obviously selection. So, I want to make sure that the coach remains accountable for team performance."

Such a structure - which will apply to New Zealand's men's, women's and Under-19 national teams - wouldn't undermine the role of a captain, according to Buchanan. "A captain and coach have to have a very close relationship, and supporting that is the national selection manager working very closely with a coach and therefore the captain. In terms of picking squads, the national selection manager will be silly not to be consulting with coach and captain."

But was it a risk leaving so much authority in the hands of one person? "That is again a possibility, but hopefully we'll get the right people to occupy those respective roles and that's the same as any organisation.

"That's important with a coach, captain and a national selection manager that we'll be appointing in the next month or so."

Another of Buchanan's initiatives has been to conduct surveys among players, who've also been asked for their inputs on the leadership capabilities of potential captains like Ross Taylor and Brendon McCullum, though he clarified that it wasn't a vote. "Our player reviews cover a range of things and one of those, at the moment is leadership, or broadly a leadership culture, and how individual players perceive that to be in the current set-up.

"One of the important elements of a leadership culture is the role the captain plays, and we're taking the views of players about how they've experienced that culture and the leaders within it. That is part of our information to decide who'll be the new captain."

Buchanan admitted he was "excited" about doing something "pretty special" by bringing these changes. "Whether we can grasp those, and whether we're good enough to do the job is something we'll know in two to three years' time."

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  • Chetan on June 19, 2011, 4:01 GMT

    Better to have multi-member selection panel to select the National team. Heading by the coach will not allow the players to speak against him even though the coach is wrong.Ya, there must be some ideas of the coach to be discussed before the selection panel selects the National team.

  • Delan on June 18, 2011, 7:13 GMT

    Buchanan's results as a coach is masked by the fact he had strong teams at queensland and then for Australia. He main approach was to sit on a computer and worry about stats and analysis. He didn't to much to help the player on field, rather he annoyed many people. When he went to coach the KKR who weren't as strong as his previous teams we saw how his "out-side" the box style of thinking was more destructive than helpfull!

  • Ryan on June 18, 2011, 3:30 GMT

    @MaxG9: You have it around the wrong way. Aussie's extreme talent at the time masked his ability as a coach.

  • Steve on June 17, 2011, 15:17 GMT

    Buchanan ruffled many players including, Warne, Martyn, McGrath in Aus team and KKR in IPL. I hope learned his lessons and tempered his coaching/admin style. The next few months will clearly reveal if Buchanan is right for NZ or not.

  • Max on June 17, 2011, 8:23 GMT

    Hope for NZ cricket's sake that this will not turn out to be another fiasco like his 'multiple captain' theory for Kolkota Knight Riders in the IPL. Agree wholeheartedly with uglyhunK, that he should be doing more to make the players more competitive. Buchanan is an over-rated coach whose cerebral approach to the game & its effects was masked by the talent in the Aussie squad during his tenure as Aussie coach.

  • Andrew on June 17, 2011, 5:58 GMT

    @ Gilly4ever - I think Buchanan is good at thinking outside the square & was good for Oz cricket to perform that little bit better. I don't think he is what Oz need from a coach right now though. That being said I have liked what he has done in the back room for NZ cricket & would like to see some of those policys implemented here in Oz. @uglyhunK - I really can't see why a coach can't have say over team selections. Everybody wants to be able to blame somebody when a team fails, in Football its usually the coach. Why not in cricket? The Pandora's box I wouldn't want - is cricketers being miked up to the coach in the stands during a game!

  • Adrian on June 17, 2011, 4:45 GMT

    Just reading this, I know how desperately we need Buchanan back as coach of Australian cricket. Oh how he could turn the situation around quickly. Watch out, New Zealand, you are heading up the stratosphere and quick!

  • Raja on June 17, 2011, 4:14 GMT

    He takes all the junk from the management books and litters cricket fields. Dude, are you doing anything to make NZ players more competitive ?? After all, they are the ones who have to perform. And cricket is not football, why the hell coach should have final say ??

  • Chris on June 17, 2011, 4:00 GMT

    This will be a good system and the blackcaps side really has needed a big change in many respects to move them forward in a positive direction.

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