HT Image
HT Image

Wrong one from Mr Wright!

It is tough to fathom why John wrote what he wrote, writes Atul Sondhi.
None | By Atul Sondhi, New Delhi
UPDATED ON AUG 01, 2006 11:53 AM IST

Five years at the helm and not many controversies.

Exactly how it appeared when John Wright surrendered the reins of Team India to Greg Chappell in May 2005. The parting looked amicable and it seemed everything had been hunky dory between Skipper Sourav and the outgoing coach.

But now, as is apparent from the scorching heat unleashed by the 'Indian Summers', that appearances could never have been more deceptive.

The hint was there a year ago. In May 2005, Gavaskar seemed to have indicated that everything was not right between John and some other players.

In a column in the Hindustan Times, the former Indian captain had written that  "one of the things that may have made up John's mind not to renew his contract could have been the way some players treated him in the last year. He was told off and sworn at by some players."

But the little master, otherwise all praise for New Zealander, also played safe saying,  "One thing is sure -- however inefficient an Indian coach would be, there is little chance that he could be abused on his face by any player, however big the players may be. "

So, Gavaskar did indicate possibly some serious differences between the coach and the players. 

Few month's later, it was new coach Chappell's turn to blame Wright for the problems with the Indian team.

In the last few lines of the most famous e-mail in the history of cricket, the Australian had written that "this team has been made to be fearful and distrusting by the rumour mongering and deceit that is Sourav's modus operandi of divide and rule. Certain players have been treated with favour, all of them bowlers, while others have been shunted up and down the order or left out of the team to suit Sourav's whims".

And Chappell squarely  blamed the previous coach stating "John Wright obviously allowed this to go on to the detriment of the team. I am not prepared to sit back and allow this to continue or we will get the same results we have been seeing for some time now".

The question inadvertently raised by Gavaskar and Greg is if Wright lacked the courage to take some players head on. Or did he master the virtue of keeping silent and hoping some favourable results like the one against Australia in 2001 will keep him in circulation.

May be it was a mix of both and served him well.

In fact, Sourav had strongly defended Wright in December 2001, categorically stating that "there is no question of changing John Wright." The then Indian skipper, in fact, called him "a very  good coach."

Sourav's defence of Wright had come on the heels of India's dismal run after beating Australia in a mind-blowing turnaround in March 2001. The team played abysmally in the next few months. It squandered a good start and drew the two-Test series in Zimbabwe, and suffered humiliating losses -- 1-2 in Sri Lanka and 0-1 in South Africa.

He kept up his support for Wright during the remainder of his tenure. Now the same Wright has put his stamp of approval to Sourav's sacking, the man who defended him most part of his career.

Maybe Sourav was practising only self-preservation by rooting for a coach who did not seem to be asking some uncomfortable questions about players and selections.

After all, how much did Wright protest about Laxman's exclusion from the South Africa-bound World Cup squad! If he did, media certainly did not get to hear much about it!!

What, if not self-interest, prevented Wright from talking to the team management and BCCI on various issues concerning the roles of Sourav, Laxman and Kaif.

Maybe Wright felt it was pointless in view of the then unbreakable Dalmiya-Ganguly axis, or was he just interested in the salary and the prestige that comes along with one of the most sought after coaching assignments in the  World cricket.

Wright's book will certainly not tell all that!

"One thing I  chose not to do was argue my case in Public," writes Wright.

Then why now? No wonder that Former Selector Ashok Malhotra has criticised the tendency of foreign coaches to "come to India to earn million dollars and go back to write books criticising the country."

Story Saved