Lindsay Crocker's appointment as New Zealand team manager was no surprise today - that cat was let out of the bag when he resigned as Auckland's chief executive - but what was of interest was his appointment as general manager of the team. This has signalled a change in direction for the management structure of the side, something that New Zealand Cricket's chief executive Martin Snedden described as the "start of a new and exciting era".
"The new structure provides greater role-clarity for the general manager, coach and captain," said Snedden. "It makes better use of resources and gives the coach more certainty of his position within the unit."
Snedden added that the new structure had the support of all involved in the consultation process including the outgoing coach Denis Aberhart, the incoming coach John Bracewell, the selection chairman Sir Richard Hadlee, and the captain Stephen Fleming.
What the structure means is there will be a TelstraClear Black Caps Unit comprising team management, administration and support staff and the team. The coach will have ultimate decision-making authority for cricket issues and is responsible for the cricket performances of the team. There are improved accountabilities and reporting lines for team management, and there should be better integration between the team and the High Performance Centre (HPC).
Crocker will be responsible for the overall performance of the Unit, including the coach. Snedden explained: "The coach will have the ultimate decision-making authority on cricket functions and issues within the Black Caps Unit. The captain will be responsible for onfield decisions and will retain a strong off-the-field leadership role."
And Snedden added that the HPC's involvement will be greater for the side. "The HPC has the potential to be the Black Caps' most important resource. It has the capacity to provide specialist services vital to the smooth functioning of the Black Caps, and also to undertake research which will ultimately provide the side with a leading edge at international level."
The thinking was that it was important that the management structure allows players to understand the cricketing environment being created for them, feel able to contribute freely to the creation of that environment through thoughts, ideas and needs, feel inspired and invigorated enough to contribute to that environment, and to feel part of the environment.
Snedden claimed that New Zealand had gone from being a minnow in the world game to an established force - and the next step was to become a dominant force. "To achieve that, NZC as an organisation, with the assistance of the major associations, and the individuals concerned, both on and off the field, will have to extend themselves beyond what is the case at present," he said. "The vision is achievable, but requires total commitment to a clearly defined, top-quality pathway."