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Kiwis on the Wright path

columns Updated: Mar 26, 2011 00:38 IST
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John Wright has added a thick layer to his frame, making him look heavier, older and a much more relaxed man than we in India knew him to be.

A few months back, he was looking for work in India, on television and in print, for the World Cup, which is a great opportunity for former international cricketers to make profitable use of their expertise.

The man, who had done fabulous work with the Indian team, was all of a sudden asked to become coach of the New Zealand team, whose performance had hit rock-bottom.

And instead of evaluating teams and players on the idiot box, Wright, with his team on Friday night, shook the cricketing world with an upset that many would find hard to explain. Call it the decree of fate or South Africa once again choking at the big stage or whatever, the fact remains that the World Cup has lost a team which many believed was favourite.

Wright must have obviously played a major role in turning a team of no-hopers into a unit which is now just two wins away from winning the Cup.

His knowledge of sub-continent conditions must have come in immensely handy for a team which relies mostly on the spin of Daniel Vettori and bowlers with an ability to take the pace away from the ball, strengths of great utility on low, slow surfaces of this region.

Ask any Indian player who was part of his team, and he would tell you that Wright would place great premium on training drills, fielding skills and making bowlers burn themselves out in the nets so that they could improve their line and length.

Much as one would want to rejoice at the victory of the underdog, the exit of South Africans at the first knock-out hurdle is sad for many fans who have enjoyed the bowling skills of their pacers and spinners.

One always suspected that at some stage, the lack of depth in their batting could prove fatal.

No one would have imagined that it would happen in the quarterfinal and that too against the Kiwis.

Maybe there is a lesson here for all of us. In a one-day format and on a stage as big as the World Cup, nothing should be taken for granted.