It took John Wright an entire year to mend his relationship with VVS Laxman which turned frosty after the stylish middle-order bat was dropped for the World Cup and the former coach says despite the patch-up, the equation is not what it used to be before.
Wright recalled India's 2002/03 tour of New Zealand when the team for the World Cup in South Africa was announced. The former coach revealed that BCCI was disgusted with the team's performance during the tour in which they lost both the Test and the ODI series.
"The World Cup squad was named in the middle of the one-day series. The tour selectors -- me, Ganguly, Dravid and Tendulkar -- had communicated our thoughts to the selection panel back in India and the captain and I waited by the phone to ring through with the final team," Wright wrote in his book 'Indian Summers'.
The former coach said the selectors were livid with the team's show and gave them a piece of their mind before revealing the World Cup squad to them.
"Two players who were with us -- VVS Laxman and Rakesh Patel -- didn't make the cut but had to remain on tour even though we weren't going to play them, which was a bad mistake. They should have been allowed to go home...It didn't help them and it didn't help us," he recalled.
Wright said Laxman directed his ire at being dropped, for what would probably have been his first and the last World Cup, towards him and in no time the relationship between the two turned frosty.
"Laxman was devastated. He'd never play in a World Cup and now maybe never would. He felt let down, and most of that sense of betrayal was directed at me. I felt for Laxman...I tried to talk to him but couln't make much headway," Wright revealed.
Wright said he could understand Laxman's state of mind but could not do anything to help him and that contributed to the relationship becoming increasingly tense.
"This in the coach's burden: you drop a guy and from then on your relationship is tainted by his hate or perhaps even hate. It's easy to 'lose' that player and I didn't want to lose someone as valuable as Laxman," he said.
The Kiwi said he worked hard to get back Laxman's faith and the right-hander also made the effort from his side for the relationship to be somewhat normal after close to a year.
"Restoring the relationship took a year and a lot of hard work on both sides and it was never quite the same," the Kiwi added.
However, a faux pas by Wright almost brought it back to square one after Laxman rejoined the team post-World Cup for a home series.
"It happened in the dressing room in Ahmedabad: the TV was on and there was Sehwag in yet another advert. I ribbed him saying that it wasn't as good as his last one, then turned to Laxman and asked 'why don't you do some of these ads, Lax?
"Sehwag stared at me, as if to say what planet are you from? and reminded me that Laxman hadn't been at the World Cup. I forced a sickly smile, fled to the toilet and banged my head against the wall," he recalled.