Andrew Alderson

Andrew Alderson is a sport writer for the Herald on Sunday.

Cricket: Chaos no isolated incident

Mark Greatbatch. Photo / Mark Mitchell
Mark Greatbatch. Photo / Mark Mitchell

The Ross Taylor captaincy saga has inadvertently exposed a wider malaise within New Zealand Cricket that extends back to Chris Moller's appointment as chairman in August 2010.

The Herald on Sunday has been bombarded with tales of disillusionment as more investigations probe the problems besetting the sport's governing body. Sources within the organisation described the atmosphere as toxic.

The following unreported difficulties can be revealed to stand next to the well-documented opprobrium generated since the Taylor-Mike Hesson captaincy misunderstanding erupted.Mark Greatbatch underwent a mediation process after the 2011 World Cup which almost led to court after he lost his job as coach.Martin Crowe was asked to apply to be a board member by Moller in November 2010 then was not deemed qualified.Board member Stephen Boock was teed up to manage the New Zealand team post-World Cup but mysteriously missed out; he was appeased with the NZC presidency.

Sources say Greatbatch was promised two years as chairman of selectors on a hand-shake deal with former chief executive Justin Vaughan in return for passing the coach role to John Wright in December 2010.

However, once John Buchanan was signed as director of cricket in April 2011, Greatbatch was out of a job. Greatbatch took NZC to mediation and they gave him an interim six-month role as national selection manager. He was replaced by Kim Littlejohn from Bowls Australia in September 2011 after the role went to an interview process.

Vaughan denies there was a 'hand-shake deal'. He says it is simply not true.

Greatbatch cannot comment on the mediation process due to its confidential nature. However, it makes his quotes at the time more telling. In June 2011, he said: "I'm helping them [NZC] out at the moment so we'll see how it goes. It would be nice to have two to three months in the role, that's when they're probably looking to advertise it. We'll see from there."

Vaughan confirmed he could not comment on the agreement between the parties.

As well, he was unsure if Crowe was offered a place on the board in November 2010. He recalls Crowe "happily" accepting a role on the newly formed NZC 'cricket committee' which sought a solution to problems after New Zealand's 4-0 ODI series loss in Bangladesh.

It is understood Crowe went through the board selection process but was rejected. By April he had also resigned from the cricket committee because of the conflict of interest in appointing Daniel Vettori's successor as captain. Crowe was already mentoring Ross Taylor.

In the case of former test cricketer Boock seeking the manager job, he was allegedly miffed when pushed aside in favour of former Blues rugby manager Mike Sandle in July 2011. Moller is believed to have negotiated the NZC president role for Boock by way of appeasement, "shafting Nelson's Jock Sutherland sideways", as it was put by a Herald on Sunday source.

Chairman Moller, 58, described by another source as "the ultimate political animal", is off limits to comment for now; he has fronted for a solitary captaincy crisis cameo to date.

Vaughan defends the actions of the former New Zealand Rugby Union chief executive in the captaincy shambles.

"I found him really capable. He has deep experience as a CEO and appreciates the issues they face. A lot has been made of Chris not fronting but, in fairness, he has never been one to seek the limelight. He always made it clear that matters of the playing XI and contracting processes were not board decisions.

"You can argue the captaincy is slightly different. Yes, the board do not select the team but the captaincy has a wider scope and public profile.

"I would add that the board and CEO are also responsible for finances and grassroots cricket, both of which are going well. New Zealand Cricket is not just about the Black Caps ... and that is the area you have the least impact over. In the end, it seems NZC's performance and reputation rests with just 11 players scoring runs and taking wickets."

- Herald on Sunday

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