Vettori relieved to leave attention behind
New Zealand have arrived in Abu Dhabi for the limited-overs series against Pakistan and their captain, Daniel Vettori, is looking forward to the relative peace and quiet of the UAE following a turbulent week at home, which culminated in the resignation of coach Andy Moles.
"If anything it's exciting to get out of New Zealand, get away from the scrutiny for a little bit, and come here and do what we do best," Vettori was quoted as saying by Sportal. "It's difficult from the perspective of having to front it all, I suppose, as captain and a selector as well. It means the focus has been on me for the explanation, so coming here takes a bit of heat off that."
Having taken up the coaching job less than a year ago, Moles resigned after holding mediation talks with New Zealand Cricket (NZC), following reports that senior players were unhappy with the lack of technical and tactical support being provided by him. It was agreed Moles would step down, after a review of the team's performance in Sri Lanka and at the Champions Trophy suggested that changes should be made.
The sudden developments left NZC with no time to appoint a new coach, or even an interim one, but they were confident Vettori's leadership would hold the team in good stead against Pakistan. Partly fulfilling the role of coach is the latest addition to Vettori's roster of responsibilities which includes the duties of captain, selector and key allrounder. Vettori, however, didn't think it would be much of a burden.
"I don't feel like I have to pick up any slack in terms of coaching the side or anything like that, but it's about coming over here and getting the job done," he said. Vettori also has no deputy after NZC relieved Brendon McCullum of the vice-captaincy in order for him to focus on his batting but did not name a replacement. New Zealand, however, still have their assistant coaches, Mark O'Donnell and Shane Jurgensen, and manager Dave Currie, who will have an enhanced role in the team set-up.
The Pakistan coach Intikhab Alam, however, said New Zealand "could find the going tough without a coach". "From where I see it, it is very important for an international cricket team to have a full-time coach," he told the News. "It could be tough for him [Vettori]. I mean, the whole idea of having a coach is to ensure that the captain is spared from any headaches and can focus on leading his players on the field in the best possible manner."
New Zealand and Pakistan clashed in the semi-final of the ICC Champions Trophy in South Africa, a contest that New Zealand won by five wickets. Vettori hoped to build on that success during the upcoming three-ODI and two-Twenty20 international series and wanted his team to display more consistency.
"I think you could say we're mercurial sides," Vettori said. "Inconsistency probably plagues both teams and you look at both teams and say there are some really talented players and guys who can win games but how often are we consistently doing that? We know we're going to battle hard against Pakistan and we need those key players to step up to either win games or nullify Pakistan's key players.
Several of New Zealand's key players, though, are out with injuries or are recovering from injuries but Vettori said there was "a little bit of confidence in the side" despite that and they believed they were "good enough to win".
Jesse Ryder, Daryl Tuffey and Grant Elliott did not travel to the UAE while, among those who did, Kyle Mills has a shoulder niggle and Vettori and Jacob Oram are recovering from hamstring problems. "I think New Zealand teams unfortunately have dealt with that on numerous occasions and they understand how to get up for them," Vettori said. "I think we've shown ourselves to be a resilient side and it creates opportunities and also gives the likes of Scott Styris, who is an extremely experienced guy, to come back into the side and prove his worth.
"If those guys perform, it means we've got a strong squad to pick from. That's been one of our biggest disadvantages that we don't have a big pool of players who consistently compete on the world stage and, when injuries take over, we've struggled. Hopefully there's a little bit of silver lining for us."