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Pathan can bat, says Wright

india Updated: Oct 17, 2006 19:41 IST

From 2000 to 2005, John Wright whipped Indian cricketers into shape. Now he fattens cattle.

As coach of the world's most popular team, he had to put up with cacophonous fans and media. Now he operates in the tranquillity of his farm in New Zealand. He is, in every way, doing the exact opposite of what he used to.

"It's a different life now," the 52-year-old told HT in Mumbai on Monday.

"Coaching India was a great job. I am grateful for having been given the privilege. But it drains you. Farming is my way of taking a break."

That doesn't mean Wright has deleted cricket out of his life. The former New Zealand captain still has a lot to say about the sport, though he tends to say it obliquely.

Excerpts:

What did you think of India's performance in the first match?

I liked what I saw. Munaf Patel was impressive and so was Pathan. The fielding is young. Though the batting saw some rough patches, considering they are playing at home, it will sort itself out. Sachin's also looking good again. I think the team is progressing under Greg (Chappell) and Rahul.

Some believe Irfan shouldn't be burdened with batting responsibilities…

Why not? We've been crying out for an all-rounder for so long. If he's good at batting, he should be encouraged. As long as it's not causing his bowling to drop.

When you see Indian players now is there a temptation to discuss their game with them?

No. They have a new coach. And if they needed to know something they'd ask. But it's nice to see them again. I met Harbhajan Singh, Mohammad Kaif and RP Singh recently.

As someone who worked closely with both Dalmiya and Ganguly, how do you see their exit?

When change happens in the subcontinent, it happens very quickly. It's a reflection of what the game is in this part of the world. And let's face it, everyone comes up for the vote.

Did Sourav have it coming?

After he lost his captaincy, he needed to score runs to be in contention. It's good that he is still playing and is continuing to try. But any player trying to return to a team needs to score runs.

Could Sourav have been fitter?

Well, if you are part of a One-day side, your fielding has to be of the same level as others.

You had some frank words about the selection process in your book, Indian Summers. We now have Dilip Vengsarkar as chief selector. Do you expect him to make a difference?

What I said was selectors ought to be treated fairly. They can't be voted in or out every year. Selectors are like players. If you get good ones hold on to them. I still say it's an area that Indian cricket needs to look into.

Dilip has been around for a long time. However, he's in a tough job, which would require him to take tough decisions. I think Dilip will be strong. And if I were in Indian cricket, I would pay him a good salary and give him a couple of years in the job at least.

Some people felt your book made private, dressing room stuff public…

There wasn't a lot of dressing room stuff in the book. Before it was published, I read it and re-read it. That said, I did want it to offer the right perspective on Indian cricket.

Shoaib Akhtar and Mohammed Asif have tested positive for a banned substance. Do you feel there is doping in cricket?

I don't know what exactly happened with Shoaib and Asif, so there's not a lot that I can say. But I am sad for Asif. He is talented. I remember before the last World Cup, the Indian players were tested in New Zealand. That was a good thing, because we got it over and done with and could concentrate on the preparation. That is what Pakistan seem to have done. But largely, I don't think there's doping in cricket. The sport is about skill and the mind. That's the beauty of it.

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