David Leggat: Selector a tricky pitch for coach and captain

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The traditionalists' reaction to Dan Vettori's joining the New Zealand selection panel might have echoed a line from the terrific British crime movie Sexy Beast.

"No! No! No! No! No!," roared Ben Kingsley's portrayal of an unhinged London mobster at one tense moment.

After all, never before had a skipper been given a formal say in the makeup of his team for tours or home series.

But on closer inspection adding national coach Andy Moles to the reconstructed four-man panel could be more problematic than Vettori's elevation.

Consider Moles first. One of the coach's primary roles is as a sounding board, or confidant for the players.

Moles is an amiable man just completing his first year in the job.

His position also includes being a buffer between the players and selectors.

If a player is out of form, down on his luck, has personal problems or simply wants to have a good old slap at the selectors, the coach is the first person he would turn to.

The ability to do that is now significantly diminished, simply because Moles is one of the four people - along with panel incumbent Glenn Turner, former test batsman Mark Greatbatch and Vettori - who will be deciding whether that player is in the next test or ODI team, or touring party.

Will a player feel as happy about baring his soul to someone who has a direct hand on his test place? Moles will argue his relationship with the players is good, and this is a natural next step in his job. And to be fair he is not the first coach on a selection panel.

What of Vettori? Captains are always a selector on tour; they are always involved in picking teams, and once a 12 is decided for a home test, it is the captain's job to decide who to leave out.

The nay-sayers will maintain Vettori cannot see enough domestic cricket to do the job as traditionally prescribed because so much of his time will be spent out in the middle.

They'll also wonder how he will go about voting out a longstanding teammate and friend.

And will he know, if his form deteriorates, when it is time to step down?

Vettori is unlikely to turn up to selection meetings armed with a hefty pile of research paperwork and most of the domestic air miles will be clocked up by Turner and Greatbatch, with help from their various spies around the country, which have always been part of the selectorial setup.

Behind his studious appearance, Vettori has a hard-headed attitude and knows his mind, so is unlikely to hide from making tough decisions. Last season's vigorous insistence that his best available fast bowler Chris Martin be included for the Indian series, having initially been omitted by the selectors, is the most recent example. Martin responded with 14 wickets in the three tests.

As for his own position, he is the country's best cricketer by some distance. His place in the side is rock solid.

Vettori will bring to the table intimate knowledge of the current players from the dressing room perspective, and a smart brain.

He wants a stronger say on the players he's expected to lead. Putting his hand up for the job suggests he wasn't entirely happy with the existing group of selectors.

Vettori has bitten off a lot. Whether it's too much remains to be seen.

His first selection job will be helping pick the squad to play Pakistan away, then home, between October and early December.

New Zealand Cricket's move raises eyebrows, and yes it is different. But that's not to say, at least in Vettori's case, that it is a mistake.

- NZ Herald

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