Put an end to this Australian cricket blight

JOSEPH ROMANOS
Last updated 06:35 29/06/2012

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OPINION: The list of 20 players contracted by New Zealand Cricket for next season is ridiculous, and highlights a problem within the game in this country.

The list, compiled by New Zealand Cricket's director of cricket, John Buchanan, and national selection manager Kim Littlejohn, was fraught with inconsistencies.

Neil Wagner, the leading bowler in domestic cricket for the past two seasons, missed out, apparently because he has not achieved at international level (the South African has just become eligible to represent New Zealand). Mark Gillespie, who took five and six-wicket bags in his two most recent tests, against the powerful South African side, missed out, too. Apparently he is injury prone.

Yet Jacob Oram is among the 20, and he must be the most injury-bedevilled player in New Zealand cricket.

The list was the work of two Australians, perhaps with some advice from New Zealand assistant coach Trent Woodhill, another Australian.

Buchanan is the New Zealand Cricket supremo. The Queenslander had great success with the Australian team, but then again he did have Warne, McGrath, Gilchrist, Ponting, Clarke, Hayden, Langer, Gillespie and Lee to call on.

After that he flopped as an IPL coach and yet has been given virtual carte blanche by New Zealand Cricket.

Already his presence has cost the New Zealand team the services of outstanding coach John Wright, who says he cannot work with Buchanan.

Littlejohn, another Australian, arrived in New Zealand with little to commend him as a cricket selector.

His last job was with lawn bowls in Australia. He made headlines here by urging selectors to use a pie-chart when choosing their teams.

New Zealand cricket risks being taken over by Australians. Ashley Ross was employed for several years as a coach. It was a terrible time for our leading batsmen, who had biomechanics theory drilled into them.

Ric Charlesworth, another Australian, was for a few years a senior figure at New Zealand Cricket. His tenure was hardly a triumph. The New Zealand team had one successful Australian coach, Steve Rixon, in the late 1990s. Rixon worked well with captain Stephen Fleming and manager John Graham.

Since Rixon departed, the team has struggled. Englishman Andy Moles was offered the job in 2008 after Australian Matthew Mott turned it down. Moles lasted less than a year.

Now, with Wright departing, there's talk of another Australian getting the job: Jamie Siddons, who played one one-day international for Australia, had four relatively fruitless years coaching Bangladesh. Last season he replaced another Australian, Anthony Stuart, as the Wellington team coach. Wellington finished fourth, fifth and sixth (last) in three domestic competitions under Siddons.

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With that hardly stellar CV to support him, Siddons now talks of having a crack at coaching the New Zealand team, perhaps for the Twenty20 World Cup. He figures Wellington can be looked after by his assistant while he's busy with the New Zealand side.

Other names floated as possible replacements for Wright include Australians Justin Langer and Mott. Enough! As Keith Quinn often says, only partly in jest: "If they were any good they'd be doing it in Australia."

Most of these coaches are mercenaries. They aren't committed to New Zealand cricket, but to advancing their careers.

Good on them, but we shouldn't be fooled into thinking otherwise.

Last week's ill-considered contracted players list is just the latest example of New Zealand cricket being poorly served by the Australians running the game here.

z Joseph Romanos is a Wellington sports writer and broadcaster.

- Stuff

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