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Making the Wright noises

John Wright is an intense person who desperately wants success. He has brought a certain discipline to the Indian team and they will need all his experience in South Africa next month.

india Updated: Jan 15, 2003 22:04 IST

John Wright is an intense person who desperately wants success. He has brought a certain discipline to the Indian team and they will need all his experience in South Africa next month.

Within The next few weeks, all eyes will be on southern Africa. Everyone will have different ideas as to who will win the Cup — it will be a talking point with contrasting views mixed with emotion, frustration, joy and disappointment.

I competed in the 1975, 1979 and 1983 World Cups, all played in England. I was not available for the 1987 tournament in India and Pakistan. And by the time New Zealand hosted the 1992 World Cup with Australia, I had retired.

Some players may be fortunate to play in three or four World Cups during their careers while others will have only one opportunity to make an impact.

The experience itself should be a memorable one for whatever reasons. From a playing point of view, the inaugural World Cup was not a pleasant experience. As a 24-year-old who had enjoyed only moderate success, I was not ready for the occasion mentally or physically, because I did not appreciate, nor understand, what it was all about.

Perhaps it was because I was overawed or because we had no real expectations or even because we were amateur players and we doubted whether we could compete with the West Indies, England and Australia, by far the best teams in world cricket at that time.

The World Cup is a time when all teams have an opportunity on an equal playing field to prove that they are the best in the world. World ratings are important, as are individual ratings and personal match-ups.

For players, there will be great pride at stake and personal reputations to uphold. The planning and preparation over the last few years will shortly be tested.

Most countries will have employed a management team that they will hope has given their players an edge over others.

New Zealand have Jeff Crowe, a former captain and player, as their manager. Then there is a coach, a physiotherapist, a fitness trainer, a mental skills advisor, a technical/ tactical advisor, a computer analyst and the Chairman of Selectors (myself), who will all be on tour to assist the players in getting the best out of themselves and hopefully, produce the best possible team results.

That sort of support network was not available when I played in previous World Cups.

I have watched with some interest the role of John Wright as the Indian coach, one of the most challenging and perhaps most volatile coaching positions in world cricket due to the high expectations of India’s public.

There is a history in Indian cricket, that if the team under performs, the coach is sacked — it is as though it is entirely the coach’s fault!

Perhaps the players at times need to look at their own performances and accept the responsibility for their own actions or failings and be proactive or self-sufficient instead of relying on others to sort their games out. After all, the game is professional and players are well paid to perform to represent their country.

My father, Walter, who captained a very successful New Zealand on their tour of England in 1949, finds it difficult to accept the role of a coach in today’s modern game.

His argument is that they did not have a coach in his era, so why are they so important today? In his era players helped each other. This created a bond amongst the players and helped morale because they all had a common goal — let’s do everything together.

Today, aged 87, he observes the coach giving players some throw downs and running them through some fielding drills. However, when it comes to correcting some of the batting techniques or more to the point, the lack of technique and lack of footwork, he questions whether the coach is doing the job for which he is employed.

Walter would say, "Bradman, Trumper, Hobbs, Hammond and many other superb batsmen of the past, used their feet to get into the right position to play the ball — did they have the coaches and the support network that is available today?"

The answer of course, is "No". John Wright, as a player, was a gritty and determined opening batsman who played within his limitations. He was a true professional who worked hard on his game. No doubt his time playing county cricket in England for Derbyshire was beneficial to fine-tuning his game and instilling discipline and doing your very best, as it did with me when I played 10 years for Nottinghamshire.

Having lived in a professional environment for so many years, it is important to pass on one’s knowledge so players fulfill their promise sooner rather than later. ‘Wrighty’ is an intense person, who desperately wants success and to see his charges fulfill promise and potential.

From what I have observed, he is highly regarded by the Indian players and he has instilled a better work ethic in the team when it comes to training and preparing for a match. He has worked hard on fitness and fielding drills and I think in general terms, India is a better fielding team than in previous years.

With due respect to Indian teams and players of the past, I have seen Indian teams meander onto the park before a match, go through a low-key build up and wander around with no sense of purpose or direction. I have seen previous New Zealand and other teams just as guilty.

India have enjoyed success under John’s direction. They will need his experience during the World Cup. It is difficult to assess John’s future in Indian cricket after this tournament.

Whatever happens, he has made a significant contribution and difference to Indian cricket and I am sure India have prospered from what he has had to offer despite the poor performances in New Zealand. India are a far better team than their most recent performances.

First Published: Jan 15, 2003 22:04 IST