Bracewell a 'mad scientist' when coaching NZ

Last updated 17:12 03/09/2014
MAD SCIENTIST: John Bracewell has revealed some of the interesting methods he used during his stint as coach of the NZ cricket side.
MAD SCIENTIST: John Bracewell has revealed some of the interesting methods he used during his stint as coach of the NZ cricket side.

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Former New Zealand cricket coach John Bracewell says he took a ''mad scientist'' approach in his time with the Black Caps.

Bracewell coached New Zealand from 2003 to 2008, nestled between spells at Gloucestershire, where he is still in charge and has continued to produce some innovative ideas, particularly to their 50-overs approach.

A hard-nosed player, it was the limited-overs game where he fashioned a solid coaching record with the Black Caps.

In an interview with cricinfo, Bracewell, 56, has opened up on his philosophies, particularly during his time with the New Zealand team.

''I was hands-on in formulating the ideas to bring to the side. I was slightly the 'mad scientist' who threw ideas at them,'' he said.

''One of my strict rules has always been that once the XII has been named, then the captain makes the choices. It's never imposed on him by me.

''I'll argue with him up to the point when we get the XII. I felt like a nervous spectator, like everybody else, and to be honest I ended up just enjoying the ride.''

Bracewell said he had been prepared to garner ideas from anywhere, even television comedies.

''Team fielding, pairs fielding are things that we introduced way back with Gloucestershire: guys picking the ball up and giving it to another guy who's in a better position to throw.

''Funnily enough, I saw it as a kid watching Happy Days. At the start of the show, in the titles, Richie Cunningham pops up a ball to someone, and I thought, 'Why aren't they doing that in cricket?' That's where you get stuff. From anywhere.''

He believed the intricacies of a cricket were a reflection of society.

''I draw a lot from reading about history - the history of societies and the repeating of errors,'' he said.

''It's just a subculture, cricket. It truly is, because it's individuals within a team.

''How do you get to create a socialist environment, a kibbutz? And how do you cater for those individual needs?

''My apple's redder than your apple, and therefore I should be getting a greater profit for my individual apple.

''Those sorts of things exist throughout society, so lessons don't just come from a cricket source or a sports source. It comes from a historical source.

''I've always been a socialist at heart. But I say: aren't all coaches?''

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Bracewell felt at ease coaching Gloucestershire because he drew similarities with his county side and the Black Caps, happily classing them as battlers.

''New Zealand is very much like Gloucestershire. It's a low-budget, small selection-group structure,'' he said.

''Generally you've got, at most, throughout New Zealand's history, eight or nine test players, and then you make up the numbers after that with whatever is available.

''When you haven't got someone who immediately replaces a player like for like, that's when personalities really are important, as they are in New Zealand.

''Because they have to hunt as a pack, as do Gloucestershire and lower socioeconomic sides.''

Bracewell made no apologies for his straight-shooter approach.

''I think there's always a case for telling the truth in a way the player can relate to, so he gets it,'' he said.

''Some players can take it brutally, from the hip, and some players need a lot more cajoling.

''But often the more words you use the more confused the message. We can all use a thousand words where perhaps two would have done.

''But you also have to recognise there are times when the whole truth and nothing but the truth can actually kill a guy off for a long time.

''You've got to think about the next step. You may not need all the truth because you might need them next week."

- Stuff

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