Justin Vaughan's patient not much improved

GEOFF LONGLEY
Last updated 05:00 22/09/2011

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OPINION: It can be a worry when the air hostess greets you by your christian name when you board another international flight.

That was the situation faced by New Zealand Cricket chief executive Justin Vaughan and led yesterday to him getting off the frequent-flier schedule.

Vaughan aborted take-off for another four years with NZC onto the 2015 cricket World Cup with his sudden decision to quit the job after just over four years in charge.

His desire to put family first is admirable, and entirely understandable, but conspiracy theories will invariably abound when the boss of a high-profile sports organisation steps down suddenly.

Ironically, Vaughan goes at a time when NZC appears on a more stable footing and is facing the future in better shape than much of the recent past under his reign.

Much of the time when Vaughan headed NZC it was in turmoil either on or off the field.

A staff shakeup led to numerous departures early on while the Black Caps rankings plummeted as a succession of coaches and structures were initiated and failed to turn things around.

One of Vaughan's first jobs was to oversee the appointment of a new Black Caps coach after John Bracewell departed and the underwhelming Andy Moles and his subsequent highly paid contract exit was not a good start.

Then there were the mixed messages surrounding the next "coach", Mark Greatbatch, when really all the power was vested in captain Daniel Vettori who, try as he might, could not carry the burden alone.

It seemed to take an age for Vaughan to recognise that in John Wright he had one of the world's best-credentialled coaches sitting out at Lincoln running the high-performance centre.

Wright was finally called in to the top job after an embarrassing sequence of 14 losses in 16 one-day matches, including a series sweep by Bangladesh last season. It appears the team may now be heading in the right direction, unexpectedly reaching the semi-finals of the last World Cup on the sub-continent.

The appointment of Australian John Buchanan has provided some long-overdue firm direction of the cricket-related affairs of the body.

Off the field there continued to be disturbing issues such as a confidential staff assessment which uncovered widespread dissatisfaction with Vaughan within the Christchurch-based organisation.

Vaughan appeared to have the confidence of former board chairman Alan Isaac but may have had a tougher job convincing his replacement last year, Chris Moller, who already had chief executive experience with the New Zealand Rugby Union.

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It is unlikely Vaughan was squeezed out yet there was still a lingering feeling that he had not carried staff along with his vision in the manner of predecessors, Christopher Doig or Martin Snedden.

Outwardly, Vaughan can point to progress in a number of areas and issues under his watch, with a more stable financial footing being secured, the weak US dollar aside.

Internally, the former doctor performed some substantial surgery but it is arguable if the patient (NZC) is in any better condition.

- The Press

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