Black Caps opt for safe option in Greatbatch

The former New Zealand Test batsmen's appoitnment as coach seems to preserve the captain Daniel Vettori's powerful role within the team.

The former New Zealand Test batsman Mark Greatbatch was named coach of his country's national cricket yesterday in a conservative appointment which seemed to preserve captain Daniel Vettori's powerful role within the team. Greatbatch previously coached the New Zealand province Central Districts and the English county side Warwickshire and is also a New Zealand selector.

He said: "There is a real desire for success within this current unit and there are some very talented individuals. I believe that I can make a very positive contribution to the team and to the batting unit in particular." New Zealand Cricket said in a statement that Greatbatch would have "particular responsibility for developing batting performance within the team". They added: "Daniel Vettori will continue his high-level involvement in the selection of the team, team tactics and strategy."

Vettori has been captain, coach and selector of the New Zealand team since their previous coach, the Englishman Andy Moles, resigned in October after criticism from senior players. New Zealand Cricket (NZC) chief executive Justin Vaughan said of Greatbatch's appointment: "We have put a great deal of thought, and consulted widely, about how we progress the current Black Caps unit, without upsetting the current leadership momentum within the team.

"We also considered the credentials of a number of high-profile international options. "Over the past 12 months the Black Caps team, under the captaincy of Daniel Vettori, has made significant advances in terms of developing a culture of individual accountability. I know Mark is strongly supportive of the way the team has progressed and will complement Daniel well." New Zealand Cricket did not reveal the names of the candidates interviewed for the role, although the former Australian batsman Darren Lehmann said on Friday he had been in talks.

Greatbatch follows Moles as a relatively low-profile appointment with little previous international experience. Moles came to the job after coaching Scotland and Kenya but had never been in sole charge of any team at international level. Greatbatch was director of coaching at Warwickshire between 2005 and 2007 but left under a cloud after their relegation from the County Championship and Pro40 League.

Despite some minor successes - reaching the final of last year's Champions Trophy - New Zealand are ranked sixth in the ICC Test rankings and fourth in one one-day internationals. The recent retirements of bowlers Shane Bond and Iain O'Brien, all-rounder Jacob Oram and batsman Nathan Astle have left the team severely depleted. * With agencies