Mark Richardson is a former Black Cap and current columnist for the Herald on Sunday

Mark Richardson: Wright must impart resolve

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CEO of New Zealand Cricket Justin Vaughan, and new coach John Wright. Photo /Greg Bowker
CEO of New Zealand Cricket Justin Vaughan, and new coach John Wright. Photo /Greg Bowker

I have to congratulate New Zealand Cricket and in particular CEO Justin Vaughan for the speed in which the recent changes to the Black Caps set-up were made.

Results dictated a change was needed, a review was put in place, a recommendation was forthcoming, a decision was made, it was ratified and voila - we have a new coach. More accurately, we finally have a head coach.

Now, can John Wright effect the changes to performance we all desire? He is in a better position to do that than Mark Greatbatch because of the changes to the Black Caps' coaching structure that accompanied Wright's appointment. He is the head coach, top dog, and thus in a better position to impart his desires on the team.

'My way or the highway' is not the coaching style I endorse, but right now I feel a little of this is what is required.

Daniel Vettori's form of late has meant he was no longer leading by example. With Wright at the top, Vettori can now focus on his own performance leaving the coach to crack the whip.

The biggest challenge for Wright will be to improve the team's cricket smarts. We know the senior players are capable of more and are the catalyst for good performance in the team, but they continue to make poor decisions. All the talent is there in the batting line up, it's just a matter of how to get it to shine more often. Somehow Wright achieved that with India, admittedly a better canvas to work with, but it comes down to the same principle ... an attitude shift.

While Wright appears to want a simple structure, less cluttered with specialist coaches and consultants, I can't imagine he professes to knowing everything about batting, bowling and fielding. But he may know plenty about creating a winning culture.

That is what he appeared to create in India. There he had a team that could have easily been torn apart by egos and player resistance, but he got India working together, playing well and fighting hard.

No doubt there are players with some technical deficiencies, but there is not enough time until the World Cup to substantially improve those. What can change is the players' application - a quality Wright was renowned for, which does not mean he can coach it. After all, Greatbatch was a die-for-the-cause sort of player himself. But, if the players know they have a coach they are formally accountable to, perhaps the existence of a "boss" may induce a little more on field accountability.

- Herald on Sunday

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Mark Richardson is a former Black Cap and current columnist for the Herald on Sunday

Mark Hunter Richardson represented New Zealand in 38 Tests from 2000-2004 racking up an impressive 2,776 runs with an average of 44.7. The former Black Cap began his cricketing career as a left-arm spinner but soon realised that his talents lay with the bat. The transition from ball to bat was seamless and Richardson soon made his international debut against Zimbabwe at the age of 29. Known as a stalwart opener, Richardson’s intelligent style of hard-grind batting came at the perfect time for New Zealand cricket and provided much-needed stability for the Black Caps. Apart from being an excellent opening batsman, Mark Richardson was well-known among fans and team mates for his humorous off-pitch antics and friendly interactions with the famous Beige Brigade, with whom he formed a strong relationship. An excellent cricketer with a personable quality, Richardson once remarked that his retiring first-class average was only different to that of Sir Donald Bradman by a decimal point. Mark Richardson retired from all forms of the game in 2004 and continues to write an insightful, thought-provoking column for the New Zealand Herald.

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