John Buchanan. Photo Getty
New Zealand Cricket's director of cricket John Buchanan
could be a casualty in the balance of power at NZC in the wake
of the Ross Taylor captaincy saga.
Despite direct calls to Buchanan and a request to speak to
him through NZC's media department, the director of cricket
has stayed silent, though he did respond to inquiries with a
courteous text saying he could not comment at this stage. Yet
he remains a key piece in what has been a 1000-piece summer
holiday jigsaw for New Zealand fans.
Buchanan's role in the soap opera which resulted in Taylor's
exit as skipper seems crucial to understanding the full
picture. He was an unequivocal supporter of Taylor remaining
captain in all forms of the game but was overruled in favour
of what NZC claimed was a preferred split captaincy option
with Brendon McCullum taking over in limited overs.
A source said Hesson and Buchanan engaged in "robust
discussion" on the topic during the Sri Lanka tour.
Taylor's decision to step away from the test leadership means
McCullum now leads New Zealand in all three international
After Taylor was axed as captain - or in NZC-speak "turned
down the test captaincy" - he spoke about Buchanan's role in
"John has been outstanding in this process. He gets a lot of
flak but has been an amazing support for me."
The lack of Buchanan's right-of-reply on the captaincy issue
is a shame. Whether you agree or disagree with his cricketing
views, they are often insightful and innovative. However,
embracing robust, open debate on the topic has hardly been
NZC policy in recent weeks.
Instead, the governing body is left with a director of
cricket contracted until after the 2015 World Cup who at best
disagrees with Hesson and senior management over a crucial
issue; at worst it makes Buchanan's future in his current
Buchanan survived when his methods differed with former coach
John Wright; whether he can survive the disagreement with
Hesson, given NZC's wholehearted endorsement of the new
coach, is an area to watch. Buchanan could become
marginalised or, as one source put it, "might struggle to
NZC chief executive David White denies this: "John has put in
place a thorough plan as director of cricket for the Black
Caps, White Ferns and under-19s and is working towards
integrating our programme."
Buchanan's work enacting a long-term high performance plan
has also been appreciated at major association level. The
current model is understood to extend beyond the 2015 World
Cup and included plenty of consultation. Buchanan is believed
to have been zealous about ensuring its implementation.
Buchanan was described variously as "thorough at canvassing
opinion" and "happy to argue, debate and justify his point of
view" even if it was sometimes "left-field when drilling down
into the game".
The 59-year-old was appointed to the job in April 2011. He
has already seen transitions in the key roles of chief
executive (Justin Vaughan to White), coach (Wright to Hesson)
and captain (Dan Vettori to Taylor to McCullum).
Herald on Sunday sources say Buchanan might still consider a
return to coaching ranks. He is understood to have worked in
that role with the New Zealand A team against India A in
September and October at Lincoln to whet his appetite.
Buchanan was Australian coach from 1999-2007 in a tenure that
included a record number of straight test wins (16) and two
World Cup triumphs.
- Andrew Alderson of Herald on Sunday