John Wright is going through mixed emotions. The New Zealander was a decent international cricketer, but found fame as the coach of India when he guided them to the 2003 World Cup final in South Africa. Having taken over as coach of his national team, the amiable Kiwi makes an emotional return to the sub-continent for the World Cup.
Excerpts from a telephonic interview:
What are your thoughts as you return to India as New Zealand coach?
It will be special to coach my home country at my second home. To be in a World Cup in India will be a fantastic experience. It would be a celebration of cricket. The excitement will be huge with India being one of the big teams. For us, it will be a great challenge, we have been struggling a bit lately but if we can strike early form and gain confidence, we can do well.
From the India job to being the NZ coach, how is the pressure different?
The pressure is always there and you should know how to handle it. I am older and hopefully wiser. But, it's different.
The expectations are much bigger in India. The New Zealanders expect us to do well, as well. We have some good cricketers and if we can get our build-up right, find some early form, we will do well.
For me, here I have my family and friends who will be following the fortune of my team directly in everyday news. As India coach, I knew my family at home did not have to directly deal with it.?
How do you look at the prospect of coaching against India?
I am looking forward to it. They probably know how I think and I know how they think (chuckles). It's a huge opportunity, it will be fun.
How do you rate this India team?
They're a formidable side and have shown the ability to compete outside India. They are vastly more experienced. It's a similar side to the 2003 team and there
are a lot of names there from that team, for some it will be the third or fourth Cup.
Playing at home can be a double-edged sword as the expectations and pressure will be huge. We would love to play them at some stage. We are playing them in a friendly match and would love to meet them again.
How do you look back at the 2003 World Cup?
It brings back mixed emotions. We played good cricket going to the final and it would have been nice to win. I would like to play that game (final) again, all the players would like to have the fixture again but we can't get that.
To get that close and fail at the last hurdle was heartbreaking. Looking back we could have turned up differently that day. But the team made the country proud and that's most important.