Former Australian Coach John Buchanan.
Former Australian Coach John Buchanan. Warren Lynam

New role won't change Buchanan

OLD habits die hard and John Buchanan has vowed not to break any of his as New Zealand Cricket's first director of coaching - even though his methods did not meet with universal approval when he coached Australia.

Perhaps one of the most unorthodox figures in international cricket for coaching methods - including pioneering the use of the "closed-eye technique" with players batting and catching with their eyes shut in scenes reminiscent of Star Wars - Buchanan also embraced the philosophies of ancient Chinese warriors; encouraged players to give talks on subjects ranging from wrestler Hulk Hogan to the Bee Gees; and arranged a military-style boot camp for the Australian team before its 2006-07 Ashes series whitewash of England.

Buchanan presided over the most successful era in Australian cricket when they won a record 16 consecutive tests and 23 World Cup matches.

At one stage Australia's test record under Buchanan was 15 wins from 15 matches. His team won three out of four Ashes series and, in 2004, made history by winning a test series in India in nearly four decades.

But Buchanan's coaching methods have never been universally accepted. Australian legends Ian Chappell and Shane Warne have been vocal critics of what they allege are Buchanan's "crackpot" theories. Former Indian skipper Sunil Gavaskar is another who attributed Australia's domination to its great players rather than Buchanan's coaching methods.

Buchanan hasn't always enjoyed success.

He departed under a cloud after English county side Middlesex finished 17th in the championship, their lowest position in history, in 1998.

Over a decade later, the Queenslander was sacked from his Indian Premier League role as the coach of the Kolkata Knight Riders following the side's poor results in 2009.

However, he had five successful Sheffield Shield seasons with Queensland when his state won two Shield titles and two one-day gongs.

Looking ahead to his new role, an unrepentant Buchanan - who will oversee NZC's high performance programme and play a key role in picking the Black Caps' new captain and selection panel - insists his off-the-wall coaching methods will prove successful.

"I was never worried about the opposition of players [Shane Warne] to my coaching methods, provided I didn't ostracise myself from the [Australian] team, which was never the case," Buchanan says.

"All coaches doubt their methods a lot of the time but, in doubting them, you continually test them, re-assess them, and improve them.

"The coaching methods that I have employed in the past still have a place in New Zealand but my new role is about a lot more than just that," he says.

"The biggest issue facing New Zealand cricket is the lack of depth because of the small population but we can still create a winning culture. It's okay for other people to criticise me and for others to praise me - but the key is for them all to be well informed of the facts.

"As a coach, I've always worked on skills development and tried to help create an environment of accountability between players and coaches.

"I'm most proud of the fact that, when I coached the Australian side," says Buchanan, "I helped introduce computer technology to aid the players' natural intuition so they could analyse their own techniques and skills without continually being told what to do.

"It's about empowering players to take more responsibility and to trust in their ability.

"But I'm not someone who is going to force my opinions down anyone's throat.

"In my new role, I'm going to listen and to talk through my ideas and to take on board the feedback from the Black Caps players and coaches."

Buchanan has ruled out ever returning to coach Australia insisting his immediate future is on these shores.

"There's no chance of me wanting to coach Australia again - that chapter of my life is closed," Buchanan said. "I'm comfortable with being based in New Zealand and I'm looking forward to the big challenge of making the Black Caps more successful.

"I've spent the past two years working towards a role like this so it's perfect timing."


EDITORIAL: Kids we care about and kids we don't

EDITORIAL: Kids we care about and kids we don't

There are kids we care about and those maybe not so much.

Nature to take it's course at Tallow Creek

Nature to take it's course at Tallow Creek

Tallow Creek warning on water levels

Journey ends at Tallow Beach for humpback

Journey ends at Tallow Beach for humpback

Humpback dead on Tallow Beach

Local Partners