Just what do you do once you've reached the highest office you can possibly hold in your chosen line of work? If you're a cricket coach, it doesn't get bigger than being with India, and life can be very quiet once you're done, as John Wright is finding out.
Wright, who was India's first-ever foreign coach, lived every ball, suffered every loss and rode the highs with the Indian team for five tumultuous years from 2000 to 2005. These days, he is a national selector in New Zealand and works with the board in the development of coaching structures for promising youngsters at a regional level. But mostly, he spends long hours in his North Canterbury farm, planting trees, building fences and tending to his cows.
“I love pottering about the farm. I love anything that's physical labour,” Wright told the Hindustan Times on Tuesday. “I grew up on a farm and it's very peaceful. There's no one there to tell me what to do, which is pretty good.”
But it's not been easy for Wright to come to terms with life outside the spotlight. “It's been quite an adjustment. It was good the first six or seven months — I needed a break,” said Wright. “But life's quite boring. There's no job like coaching the Indian cricket team. You realise how fortunate you were to have it.”
If you saw Wright during his time as coach you may not have realised just how much fun he was having. Sure, he loved his job, but more often than not you'd see him cursing away, frustrated at one loss or another.
“The players were a big part of my life and I breathed every ball they played. They become a part of you,” said Wright. “I love the intensity and miss the competition. I don't think I'll have such an exciting time again in my life. There were some nights when you didn't feel that great if you'd lost and you always carry those losses with you. But then you have the victories.”
And it comes as no surprise that Wright remembers that warm day in Chennai in 2001 as the stand-out moment of his tenure. “That day we beat the Aussies in Chennai was huge. I didn’t think I was going to be lasting too long (as coach) halfway through the Kolkata Test. I thought this would be a very short little job,” said Wright breaking into laughter. “I can still see that shot which Bhajji played that speared through gully. And then walking around the ground afterwards was just amazing.”
Considering just how badly Greg Chappell's tenure as coach ended, you had to stifle a chuckle when Wright added, “It would be good to go on holiday and be the Indian cricket coach for six weeks.” After all, the job of coaching the Indian team is certainly no holiday.