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The Wright decision

It is sure now that John Wright will be given an extension as Indian coach. It is a decision few can fault, for Wright is a humble man who lets his performance speak.

india Updated: Apr 17, 2003 17:38 IST

It is almost sure now that John Wright will be given an extension of one more year as Indian coach. Reports say he might also be given additional charge of the National Cricket Academy in Bangalore since the Indian team has no fixtures till the winter.

It is a decision which few can fault, for Wright is a humble man who works tirelessly and lets his performance speak for him.

It is a measure of Wright’s commitment to his team that he landed up in Bangladesh two days after the tournament even though he was granted leave due to his father’s death. There too he has been seen spending time with the new players which is another sign of a sincere coach.

Of the last 80 ODI matches under Wright, India has won 47 and has taken India to 9 big finals and had some incredible victories in between. The major contribution of a coach is not just the victory percentage. It is his ability to make a dismembered team into a confident outfit which believes in itself.

Wright has done all this. The main thing is that he has helped the players make a transition from a “iffy” team whose performance depended on many conditions. If Sachin was in form, if the track was not too bouncy, if we won the toss, if we did not have to chase, and of course if the gods of luck permitted…

It was such a team that Wright took over and transformed and this writer has had the opportunity to understand his mind and thinking from discussions with him during domestic tours.

1.The major role that a foreign coach does to a team or a club is to look at things without a bias. In India such biases (mostly regional) can be quite damaging and thus it is better to have a foreign coach.

2. The Indian team has a disproportionate number of superstars who at any given time earns more than the coach and has a much better track record. So it is only natural that such players might not listen to all what a coach says.

Wright managed to transcend that because he gradually won the respect of the players and also because he was recommended by the players themselves, specifically Rahul Dravid. He also did not talk down to them.

In any case, it is difficult for any coach to tell Sachin Tendulkar how to play a certain stroke, or which stroke to cut down on. Incidentally it was Wright who took the catch to dismiss Tendulkar and prevent him from becoming the youngest Test player to score a century.

3. A team with such accomplished players need not be taught any strokes. All they need is a father figure who will put an arm around their shoulder and also point out how they can get through a rough patch and other such advice. Basically he has to give them the larger picture.

4. Wright gave the captain much freeway. By striking a rapport with Sourav Ganguly, Wright, made sure there would not be any divisions or rancour within the team. Though there is a think-tank of senior players it is clear that the final decisions were taken by Wright and Ganguly themselves.

Wright would also have played a role in assuaging the feelings of a senior player like Anil Kumble who had to sit out during recent foreign tours. This Ganguly-Wright combination succeeded in preventing any groupism within the team. This happens because the players know that a coach like Wright does not have any biases and will be fair in any decision he takes.

It must be remembered that all this has been possible due to the way in which Ganguly deals with team members. It was a pleasing sight to see the captain carry the drinks in Dhaka for the second string team.

5. Wright has been a father figure to the team and the players have accepted him without any reservations. It is not that he is too gentle. He is a tough taskmaster. When Sehwag once returned to the dressing room after a bad shot Wright told him firmly that he is going to be out of the team if he repeats that shot.

Just for having achieved the impossible, made the team a happy confident and fit unit, Wright needs one or two more years.