Opinion: Far too much in one man's hands

Andy Moles
Andy Moles
What is the difference between Daniel Vettori and Brian Tamaki? The Black Caps do not bow when they approach Vettori . . . yet.

Whether it is by circumstance or Machiavellian design, the left-arm spinner has acquired enough power to dim the environmentally friendly and energy-efficient lights over Seddon Park.

He's now a selector, the stand-in coach, the captain, a leading bowler and one of our best batsmen.

With former coach Andy Moles dispatched, Vettori's grip on the reins is complete.

Even Brendon McCullum's voice in the dressing rooms has been muted by his public demotion from the vice-captaincy.

The cricket community and the media seemed to be in unison over Moles' departure.

No-one, it appeared, was willing to suggest a mutiny had taken place or player power was getting out of hand.

Less than a year into his three-year contract, former Warwickshire opener Moles walked the plank with barely a squeak - no doubt silenced, to an extent, by the size of his pay-out.

Before splashdown he meekly complained about not being given the time to improve, and he rejected the perception he was ill-equipped to take the national side forward.

Given he got the job only when several higher-profile candidates withdrew, criticism was directed at New Zealand Cricket for rushing into the appointment.

Moles' fate had been sealed by a poor report card on which the country's leading players questioned whether he was up to the task.

Some of the same players flexed their muscle earlier in the year, when they delayed signing their national contracts until they had clarity around whether the inbound Australian tour would clash with the lucrative Indian Premier League (IPL).

IPL commissioner Lalit Modi singled McCullum out for trying to exploit a loophole in the tournament rules which would allow him to play in the IPL as a free agent.

It was unfair to highlight McCullum's name when fellow New Zealanders Vettori, Jacob Oram, Ross Taylor, Jesse Ryder and Kyle Mills also delayed putting pen to paper.

New Zealand Cricket chief executive Justin Vaughan said he saw no point in "having a huge stand-off with our leading players" and eventually a compromise was reached, with the planned three-test series cut to two matches.

The tail wagged the dog, Vaughan did not add.

It has been a turbulent start to what is a big summer for the Black Caps, and if it all goes wrong, Vettori is the only one left to blame.

And, aside from a few easy games against Bangladesh in February, the next five months could bring a lot of pain for the national side.

With three tests against Pakistan in November and December, and two twenty/20 fixtures, five one-dayers and two tests against Australia in late February and March, the Vettori show faces a daunting challenge.

He is a wonderful cricketer and, arguably, New Zealand's best since Martin Crowe.

The question is whether he has been saddled with too much.

He is still relatively new to the captaincy, having taken over from Stephen Fleming in November 2007.

And his appointment as a national selector in August this year was unprecedented.

Even Fleming, whose captaincy skills were highly regarded, never acquired such power.

Moles' replacement is unlikely to be appointed before the end of the summer and, even then, it is likely Vettori will have a big say in who gets the job.

Enough is enough.


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