Daniel Vettori gets a lifeline. He has the upcoming series against the visiting Pakistan side to prove his worth as captain of New Zealand. Will he be able to redeem himself and his team, who are presently on an 11-match losing streak? New Zealand Cricket (NZC) seems to think so for despite disastrous tours of Bangladesh and India, they are backing this horse to take them through to a series win.
"We need to go through a proper review and talk about what options there are to help the side improve," Justin Vaughan, the NZC chief executive, said, "but I'd be hard pressed to believe the captaincy would be one of those issues."
What was tagged the perfect World Cup build-up, with matches in each of the host countries, has turned into a debacle for New Zealand. The team failed to make the final in the tri-series in Sri Lanka in August and lost all their matches in bilateral series against Bangladesh and India.
Vettori had a particularly discouraging time in the one-day series against India as not only captain but also professional cricketer. He managed to get only two scalps from five matches and went at an economy rate of nearly 5, while averaging just 15 with the bat.
"I look back on this one-day tour [of India] as one of the worst tours for me as a New Zealand cricketer," Vettori said in Auckland. "That hurts a lot and it's embarrassing." He insisted, however, that there was no need for a new leader. "I enjoy doing the job, but if the team needs to move forward without me, then so be it. I don't think it's the right answer but there's a committee set up and I'm sure they'll make some decisions."
Former New Zealand cricketers Martin Crowe and Shane Bond are among those on that committee, set up after the humiliating defeats to Bangladesh, to advise the board on promoting cricket at all levels - grassroots to elite - in New Zealand.
Mark Greatbatch's position as coach comes under the scanner, and there has been talk of replacing him with former captain John Wright, who was successful during a four-year stint with India. "I understand people's desire to see him attached to the Black Caps because the New Zealand public loves John," Vaughan said. "He's had a proven international record and the Black Caps aren't travelling very well at the moment. But we are comfortable with the process we went with around the appointment of Mark and the way the team is operating with Roger [Mortimer, the NZC high-performance director] and the others."
Greatbatch, who was handed the mantle of coach in January, said he wanted to stay in charge at least until the World Cup. "If New Zealand Cricket decide that (sacking him) is the best way going forward I'd be happy with that," he said. "I'm still very keen. I came into this job with the World Cup in mind."
Starting Dec 26, New Zealand start a home series against Pakistan, which includes three Twenty20s, two Tests and six one-dayers, the last series for both teams before the World Cup.