Star profile: Justin Vaughan

By Chris Rattue

It was hardly surprising when Justin Vaughan's name popped up as a potential replacement soon after Martin Snedden announced he was quitting cricket's top job to become head of rugby's 2011 World Cup organising crew.

Vaughan - the 39-year-old former Black Cap - has maybe unique and certainly ideal credentials to be New Zealand Cricket's chief executive.

International cricketer. Successful double Shell Trophy winning Auckland captain. Well travelled academic and businessman. Why not NZC chief executive then, for Dr Vaughan?

Yet despite being a member of the NZC board, Vaughan didn't give the job a moment's thought after Snedden rang to say he was stepping down.

Vaughan was passionately immersed as the first chief executive of BrainZ. The Australian stock exchange listed company, which turns over around $6 million a year with offices in Auckland, Britain and United States, produces software that allows non-specialist medical staff to interpret brain function tests results of critically ill patients.

Herald cricket writer Richard Boock first raised the NZC CEO possibility with Vaughan, and floated it in a story. Others latched on. One thing led to another.

The decision was made during a Coromandel holiday with his family - wife Michelle, an oncologist, and their children Natalie, 8, Jemima, 6, and Bruno, 2.

"You get very absorbed in what you are doing and BrainZ has been all-consuming," Vaughan says, during a Herald interview at Auckland Hospital.

"But other people, friends and family, picked up on the story. I gave myself a summer holiday to think about it then one night, just as we finished dinner, I said to my wife 'I want to do it.' She said 'Are you sure?"'

Vaughan may be jumping into the fire and a frying pan. Sports management at this level can be a rough ride and he is a relatively young man for the arena. It might even lead to a line or two on a fresh face.

"I guess there's no secret formula to cricket or other sports management that someone from business management can't apply and I've always had cricket inside me," he says.

"It's not just about whether it's right for me of course. I had to ask what I could add to cricket."

When it comes to specifics, Vaughan is still formulating his plans. Luminaries such as Martin Crowe will be consulted. In terms of character and pedigree though and the ability to manage a $40 million a year business, cricket is in promising hands.

There is leadership and sporting achievement embedded in the English-born Vaughan's family history. It involves diverse strains of country doctor compassion, military might and international sports achievement.

The intriguing and significant aspect is that his late uncle Brian, a nuclear submarine commander, was a loose forward who captained the England rugby team in the late 1940s.

Brian Vaughan was also the manager of the 1962 Lions who toured South Africa where - according to the records - he became the coach because there was no one else to do it.

Vaughan's father Geoffrey, a Harlequins prop, was close to making the England side.

"If your father and uncle have reached those high levels, I guess it makes you realise that getting to the very top is entirely possible. Maybe it is a subconscious thing.

"I think my father got so close to the England team that these days he would have been a reserve. Having representative players in my family certainly created certain expectations."

The expectations may have been largely unstated, but then again, actions can speak volumes. Vaughan was just 5 when he played his first game of cricket at Cornwall and, as luck would have it, Commander Vaughan was in New Zealand on holiday and umpired the match.

"He gave me out lbw," says Vaughan, still with a hint of shock. I was only 5. It was my first ever game. How many 5-year-olds get given out lbw? I was so shell shocked.

"What the heck was he doing? Maybe it was his message of get tough, that there were going to be no favours for me."

Justin Vaughan was born in Hereford, England, the youngest of four. His father, a country GP and Royal Air Force doctor, had become tired of England's national health service and bought a house and practice in Browns Bay over the telephone. The family - Justin was 9 months old - headed to New Zealand on the liner Achille Lauro (later to become a notorious name in shipping when terrorists hijacked it).

One of Vaughan's brothers played cricket, so he followed suit. Soon, there was a cricket net in the backyard. He made age-grade representative teams.

At 10, Vaughan decided he would follow the long family tradition and become a medical doctor. He never wavered and qualified in Auckland, although he later decided neither the "conveyor-belt style of patient consultation" or a shift to specialist training was for him. So he quit clinical medicine for a business life.

Vaughan emerged on the New Zealand first class cricket scene as a right-arm medium pacer and a middle-order left-handed batsman with a square stance. It is probably fair to say that he had to call on all of his talent to make the international ranks.

Vaughan made his Black Caps debut in 1992, summoned to Sri Lanka after a handful of Black Caps quit the tour following a bombing tragedy near their hotel. The greatest moment in a short international career came in 1996, when the Black Caps won the first of two tests in Pakistan.

New coach Steve Rixon, having noted his resilience against the quicks during a tour of the West Indies, shifted him to opener. Vaughan, who had never opened in a first class match, was suddenly pitted against Wasim Akram and Waqar Younis.

Younis pierced the skin on Vaughan's back shoulder with a skidding bouncer in the first test at Lahore, where New Zealand broke a 27-year duck in Pakistan. "Waqar told me to get out quick, to save myself a whole heap of pain," remembers Vaughan.

But it was Akram who Vaughan says was a class above any fast bowler he faced.

Vaughan then took four first innings wickets, three being lbw decisions from umpire Shakoor Rana who had been involved in the famous finger-wagging stoush with English captain Mike Gatting a few years earlier. While Vaughan struggled as an opener, he had match bowling figures of five for 75 in the victory.

For oddities though, Vaughan points to his one-day dismissal in Christchurch of South African captain Hansie Cronje - later disgraced as a matchfixer. "I was very proud of that. Stumped Parore, bowled Vaughan. But who knows now? You can't boast about getting Hansie out any more," he says.

He quit the game in his late 20s, a knee injury the catalyst for early retirement. Vaughan's CV includes a year with the English county side Gloucestershire. He has a business degree, worked for a German pharmaceutical powerhouse, has been involved with the business side of the Mercy/Ascot Hospital, and did a year with consultancy firm PricewaterhouseCoopers.

His priority, on taking over as NZC chief next month, will be resolving the Black Caps' coaching situation where John Bracewell's contract is up. The long term aim, he says, is to produce more top-20 ranked players and to instil that simply making the Black Caps isn't enough.

"We can become No 1 or 2 in test cricket. There's no magic bullet for the Black Caps, but we won't achieve what we want until we have world champion players," he says.

"I'm coming in at a very good time because while the Flemings and Bonds will not be around for the next World Cup, we've got a good foundation, a good group of players.

"But we've got to keep striving. The World Cup outcome wasn't good enough. You don't go there just to hit your ranking.

"The Black Caps drive a lot of other things in New Zealand cricket - finances, participation levels and so on. The message has to get through to the players that it is about becoming part of a world champion side. We've almost set the bar where national representation is reward enough, and it shouldn't be that way."

Who knows what lies ahead for the boss of New Zealand Cricket. Controversy? Glory? Disappointment? Expectations are high, yet history reveals sporadic international success and not often of the order that Vaughan is aiming for.

For now though, you are inclined to believe that NZC has scored well with its new chief.


The CV

* Age: 39.

* Born: Hereford, England.

* Teams: Takapuna, Auckland, Gloucestershire, New Zealand.

* NZ career: 1992-1997.

* Tests: Six - 201 runs at 18.27; 11 wickets at 40.9.

* ODIs: 18 - 162 runs at 18; 15 wickets at 34.93.

* Career highlight: Victory over Pakistan in Lahore, 1996.

* High School: Westlake Boys, North Shore.

* Qualifications: Medical degree (Auckland), MBA (Otago)

* Family fact: His eldest brother Paul is NZ's Trade Commissioner in India.

© Copyright 2014, APN New Zealand Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production apcf05 at 31 Oct 2014 03:37:26 Processing Time: 1242ms