Gus: We’ve all bought in to Vettori’s arrival
WITH a T20 record on a polar opposite to their County Championship success, it’s little wonder Angus Fraser’s Middlesex felt that significant change was necessary to redress the balance.
In Daniel Vettori, Fraser has made the rare move to appoint a specialist T20 coach to oversee the London county’s weak link – last year bringing their first quarter-final since lifting the trophy all the way back in 2008.
Only Derbyshire – who appointed John Wright as their specialist coach for T20 in October last year – can boast a similar job in a potentially pioneering strategy.
But with 442 New Zealand appearances and coaching stints in the BBL and IPL to his name, former all-rounder Vettori does not represent a stab in the dark.
And with the landscape of county cricket constantly changing, and a potential new tournament on the horizon, director of cricket Fraser believes others may quickly follow his and Derbyshire’s untested strategy.
“In the same way as it’s difficult for one man to captain in all three competitions, it can be hard on coaches,” he said. “You finish a Championship match one day and play a T20 Blast game straight after. It’s hard to be up all the time.
“It’s an interesting situation, clubs are finding different ways to be successful and this idea sounds like something more clubs will be doing.
“But it won’t be everyone’s cup of tea. A side like Northants – twice champions in four years – have had a lot of success without it.”
Middlesex have, at times, been accused of neglecting Blast cricket in recent years, with priorities seemingly on the four-day game.
And while Fraser is adamant there has been no definitive prejudice, the appointment of Vettori marks an active shift in mentality for the four-day champions.
It’s a move he admits will come with an adjustment period, particularly with the pressure to defend their County Championship crown and fight for the One-Day Cup, another tournament in which they’ve been found wanting in recent years.
But Fraser is confident the tournament’s under-achievers can put to rest a disappointing history, backing Vettori to be the man to deliver.“The last thing I want is to undermine the current coaches who have created a winning environment. Richard Scott has very much bought into this idea,” he added.
“Perhaps subconsciously, the mentality of the club or the supporters is that the Championship comes first. It’s like asking which of your children you love most – we have priority for all of our cricket. And having Dan in is about making sure we reaffirm that.
“We did better last year, but had four or five players missing, which hamstrung us slightly, but we hope that’s not the case this year, and Dan comes to us highly recommended in the way he goes about his cricket.”
Having won the County Championship in 2016, it’s no wonder Middlesex want to add a T20 trophy to their cabinet. Daniel Vettori could be the perfect man to lead them to that, and it looks like he is receiving the backing needed to be successful too.
Asset: Daniel Vettori. Inset: Angus Fraser