Buchanan breaks silence over Black Caps

THREE WISE MEN: From left,  Black Caps coach Mike Hesson, NZ Cricket CEO David White, and director of cricket John Buchanan.
THREE WISE MEN: From left, Black Caps coach Mike Hesson, NZ Cricket CEO David White, and director of cricket John Buchanan.

New Zealand Cricket director of cricket John Buchanan has admitted to a "frosty" relationship with chief executive David White, and warns that the Black Caps' test capitulation in Cape Town could be repeated if there isn't a change of culture in the Kiwi game.

In a wide-ranging interview, Buchanan broke his silence for the first time since former New Zealand captain Ross Taylor was axed a month ago.

Only days before Taylor's sacking, the former Australian coach recommended to NZC that Taylor remain New Zealand skipper in all three formats of the game after visiting the Kiwi side in Sri Lanka.

His suggestion was overturned in favour of Black Caps coach Mike Hesson's choice to make Brendon McCullum captain, leading critics to suggest that Buchanan's role at NZC was becoming marginalised.

Buchanan has poured cold water on those claims - but believes an under-fire NZC must embrace significant cultural change if it wants to avoid disastrous international results like the Black Caps' defeat by an innings and 27 runs to South Africa.

"This sort of situation [the Black Caps' first innings dismissal at 45] will recur if we don't address four things - integrity, trust, honesty and accountability," Buchanan told the Star-Times from near Brisbane.

"Until we can't commit that as a total organisation, that sort of result may occur again. If we can commit to those things as a total organisation, then I would be really confident . . . that that humiliation, of New Zealand Cricket and New Zealand, won't be seen again. The reality is, or the perception is, and sometimes perception is reality, that things like integrity, trust and accountability doesn't reside consistently, or constantly, within our organisation.

"We need to accept that fact, and deal with that. It's very central to what I'm trying to achieve through what I do and our high performance plan, and the people I interact with."

Buchanan received a directive from White and the NZC board to stay out of the media limelight while they reviewed the handling of the Taylor situation.

Buchanan, who didn't wish to talk specifically what occurred surrounding Taylor's axing, said his relationship with the chief executive has been strained of late - though it is still functioning.

"It can be frosty at times, but he's got a job to do, as I have," Buchanan said. "We certainly don't always meet eye-to-eye, there's no doubt about that.

"But I am very confident he gives me every possible support he can and takes my views and represents them quite candidly to the board."

Much was made how strained the relationship between Hesson and Buchanan had become after McCullum was made captain. Yet the duo spoke on Friday morning about New Zealand's performance in Cape Town, and Buchanan said he will remain a listening post for the embattled Kiwi coach.

"I've always let it be know to Mike that I'm available," he said. "I'm not one that really wants to spend every moment ringing or intruding into the coach's domain. Having been a coach myself, I know there are good times, and there are times when you need to talk to people."

Buchanan on the duo's relationship: "[We] probably received a bit of a road bump through Sri Lanka. But I'm sure hopefully as two coaches, and two reasonably mature people, we can deal with that and look forward to really establishing that association over time."

Since returning from Sri Lanka in late November, Buchanan has been watching domestic cricket around New Zealand with national selection manager Kim Littlejohn, as well as working with the national under-19 side in Lincoln.

Buchanan will be returning to New Zealand next week to take in Central Districts' Twenty20 clash with Auckland in New Plymouth on Wednesday. He insists he is still happy with his role at NZC and isn't considering leaving his posting as director of cricket any time soon.

"It's a a fantastic role," Buchanan, understood to be on a lucrative contract that expires after the 2015 ICC World Cup, said. "That's why I took on the job and I still say that. I still maintain the opportunities in New Zealand Cricket are immense, in terms of what could be achieved in a short period of time - provided we all get on the same page."

Buchanan said his role hasn't changed since the Taylor debacle, and that there had been no indication from White or NZC that it will.

"From my point of view, it's still full steam ahead. The plan is still there. It's been approved by the board.

"We presented the plan to High Performance Sport New Zealand as well, albeit they've reduced our funding. It's all there. All the ingredients are there. The talent is out there, in and around New Zealand."

Sunday Star Times