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Full name John Marshall Buchanan
Born April 5, 1953, Ipswich, Queensland
Current age 60 years 51 days
Major teams Queensland
Playing role Batsman
Batting style Right-hand bat
Bowling style Right-arm medium
Height 1.95 m
|List A span||1978-1979|
Tall and tanned, bespectacled and analytical, John Buchanan was an unlikely choice as Australian coach in 1999. A teacher by trade, and a one-time university lecturer, his first-class career never progressed beyond seven Sheffield Shield appearances for Queensland in 1978-79; so following in the footsteps of Bob Simpson and Geoff Marsh was never going to be easy. But Buchanan had already been written into Australian folklore as the man who finally delivered Queensland their first Sheffield Shield title in 1994-95, and at one stage his record as national coach read Played 15 Won 15 - you can't do much better than that.
Put in charge of a team that was used to being led by example, Buchanan approached his job with a whole new perspective, and, crucially, the approval of his captain, Steve Waugh, who was a keen student of the game. Buchanan believed his role was to expand the horizons of his team by developing the individuals within - and not just in a cricket sense. So, while Australia continued on their barnstorming run of success, Buchanan was constantly calculating in the background, encouraging his charges to improve their self-assurance by delivering lectures and reciting poetry in the dressing room. Not everyone approved of his methods, not least Shane Warne, who resented having this interloper pass judgment on his weight and cricket ability, and on the 2001 Ashes tour, Buchanan's interpretation of the teachings of the warlord Sun Tzu were greeted with unanimous mirth by the English media (not that the laughter affected the destination of the Ashes). In 1998, he proved too much for Middlesex, who accused him of over-complicating a simple game as they slumped to their lowest position of 17th in the old County Championship. But dismissing him as a mad boffin is too simplistic, as the Australians demonstrated during his time in charge. In 2005 his contract was extended and he worked with the team until the 2007 World Cup. They won that too.
Andrew Miller October 2007
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