Former Australian Coach John Buchanan.
Former Australian Coach John Buchanan. Warren Lynam

Buchanan defends appointments

JOHN Buchanan has moved to allay concerns about the Australianisation of New Zealand Cricket.

The former Australian coach, now NZC director of cricket, defended the decision to appoint former Bowls Australia high performance manager Kim Littlejohn as New Zealand's national selection manager.

That means four of the senior positions around the national men's team, and its coach John Wright, are filled by Australians.

Littlejohn will help Wright select teams, will liaise with the major association coaches, and assist the national under 19 and women's team selections.

Buchanan's bottom line is that NZC wanted the best available person, irrespective of their nationality. Littlejohn applied unsuccessfully for the team manager job, which went to former Blues manager Mike Sandle.

"I could understand people may initially be a little hesitant, and [thinking] that NZC is being Australianised," he said.

"In the end, the proof will be in the pudding. Kim brought the best skills to the job.

"He presented himself exceptionally. His application was well in advance of the other applicants for the job."

The other three in the frame were former national players Glenn Turner, Mark Greatbatch and Ken Rutherford. Turner and Greatbatch had been selectors under the previous panel system.

That's been swept away since Buchanan joined NZC and persuaded it to embrace wholesale change.

Buchanan said the key elements to Littlejohn's role were "systems and processes, understanding roles and getting the right people in those roles, then we can move forward".

Littlejohn played senior grade cricket in Perth, had a season in English league cricket, coached for several years in Melbourne and, as he put it, "of all the sports I've worked in, cricket is the one I understand most about and can talk the language".

He has done stints with Baseball Victoria and the past seven years with Bowls Australia, but had to conquer steep learning curves in both because he was new to those sports.

"It's an opportunity to use my high performance skills and apply them to a sport I really know a lot about," Littlejohn said.

Littlejohn will gather information from the country's leading provincial coaches and provide Wright with the information he requires on players. Buchanan was not saying that process had not been in place under the old system.

"I'm suggesting it's a new role and new approach. We've changed our direction in terms of how it will be done. Within six to nine months it will be very clear how far Kim has advanced that system. I have great confidence in Kim's skills and abilities."

Littlejohn intends watching as much domestic cricket as possible, but will use the eyes and knowledge of the major association coaches and is confident any over-promoting of their own players will be weeded out by checks and balances.

"It's not just one coach's view, we're looking at six coaches' views on a particular player. We will make sure we get good and open, honest opinions."



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