Tuesday, Sep 21, 2021

'There Was Suspicion And Doubt'

'My interaction with the players was positive. They were all performers for their country, proud warriors who viewed with trepidation (it was understandable) if a foreigner would be good enough for their team.'

'There Was Suspicion And Doubt'
| AP
'There Was Suspicion And Doubt'

Indian cricketers viewed him with understandable "suspicion and doubt" since he was their first foreign coach, says New Zealander John Wright.

Wright, whose book Indian Summers has stirred up a controversy in cricketing circles, says he adopted a positive approach to deal with such suspicions and doubts.

"My interaction with them (players) was positive. When there was suspicion and doubt, it was understandable since I was the first foreign coach ever to be a part of the team," he told PTI in a telephonic interview.

"They were all performers for their country, proud warriors who viewed with trepidation if a foreigner would be good enough for their team. It would be the same if some foreigner was to coach any other team in world cricket."

The former New Zealand captain says despite his fond association with the Indian cricket team, he could not think of taking up the job again.

"For me this break was very important. My kids are now 14 and 12 and it's good to be back to them. I do look forward to visiting India soon, there are many things I miss and my great affection is reflected on anyone who has read the book in entirety. But to be coach of India again is far removed from my thoughts."

The genial New Zealander is taken aback by the controversy that his just-published book has generated in India and urges fans to read the book in entirety before forming an opinion.

"One must read the book where I feel my affection and warmth for India has come through. There are a lot of things in India which I miss."

Wright has kind words for his successor Greg Chappell who chose to deride the New Zealander's role in the Indian dressing room in his infamous leaked e-mail.

"I think the team has made good progress, especially in the one-day arena. You just need to be patient with Greg who is a good man," remarks Wright who is presently on a promotional tour of his autobiography.

Wright also shows no cynicism towards Sourav Ganguly who chose to fly to Australia and seek Chappell's tutorials even when he held the reins of the team as coach.

"I had no problem with Sourav flying over to Australia ahead of the tour Down Under. He did take me into confidence and I actually welcomed it. It showed the player had shown initiative. Sourav had shown a desire to improve and be ready for the Australian challenge. The proof of the pudding is in eating and his hundred in Gabba (Brisbane) meant it was worth it."

Wright says he was extremely impressed with the current crop of youngsters who are making a space for themselves in the Indian dressing room.

"I am extremely impressed with the likes of Munaf Patel, Sreesanth and RP Singh. I would have loved to work with them, see them grow. I thought the team was absolutely marvellous in securing that victory in the final Test in the Caribbean recently."

The New Zealander approves of India's attempt to widen its players' base, especially in the bowling arena, and believes it is the best way possible to prevent burnouts.

"I wouldn't say there is excessive cricket being played in international fields these days. It is all about managing your resources, expanding your pool. Once you can widen your base, the cricketers wouldn't suffer from overload or injuries."

A perceptive Wright has not missed out on the fact that India have not produced a quality spinner for a while but believes such emergence of quality slow cricketers happen in a cycle.

"If you look around the world, quality spinners are not exactly appearing in bunches in Australia or South Africa; New Zealand or England. In that respect India is no exception. I believe quality spinners emerge out of nowhere and that would happen with India too. Quality spinners come in cycles."

The New Zealander feels there is no dearth of inspiration for youngsters with quality spinners like Harbhajan Singh and Anil Kumble who, between them, have picked up nearly 800 Test scalps, being around.

Wright is effusive in his praise for Kumble who went through a revival in his career on that historic tour of Australia in 2003-2004.

Kumble just about earned the selectors' nod and boarded the plane to Australia with the knowledge that his previous visit Down Under had yielded only five wickets at 90 runs apiece and that his record on foreign pitches was abysmal.

Yet, Kumble underwent a dramatic makeover, snaring 24 victims in three Tests, and revived his career to the extent that he has picked up 151 further wickets in just 28 more Tests.

"Kumble was coming through after a serious shoulder operation and hence was doubly determined. That's been the hallmark of his career.

"He worked very hard physically and usually such efforts also make you mentally strong. He was very persistent and determined. It's one of the good things about great Indian cricketers that they know their game well and think hard about improving further. Kumble is one of the shining examples."

Wright has noticed the current trend among Indian cricketers to align themselves with county teams in English summer and does not discourage it though he would rather have players not do it at the cost of missing domestic engagements.

"County cricket can be a great place for cricketers to hone their skills, especially batters for whom it is a great education to bat in different conditions. However, they must make sure that they are not missing out on domestic cricket."



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