Calcutta: Sunil Gavaskar’s comments on John Wright in his latest column ' specifically, the bit about his being “told off and sworn at” by some players ' has set the proverbial cat among the pigeons.
However, misbehaviour by two seniors was revealed by The Telegraph as far back as November 20 last year.
Indeed, a report by this correspondent from Kanpur mentioned: “Perhaps, it has something to do with Wright’s image, but he hasn’t got the credit he deserves. Worse, and this is shocking ' recently, a couple of seniors weren’t exactly respectful towards him.
“It’s to Wright’s credit that he hasn’t allowed a particularly unpleasant incident to influence his own opinion about the duo. Rather, he has even gone out of his way to ‘protect’ them.”
Both misbehaved at the start of the 2004-05 season, with one even ‘challenging’ Wright to get him dropped. Apparently, they sought to behave like Shoaib Akhtar and it fell on the then coach to remind them of their responsibility towards Team India.
They felt offended.
Significantly, among other reasons, it’s to keep the duo (and those similarly inclined) on a leash that the BCCI chose Greg Chappell as Wright’s successor.
Gavaskar, for his part, has written: “One of the things that may have made up Wright’s mind to not 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 and one thing is for sure that however inefficient an Indian coach may be, there is little chance that he may be abused by any of the players, however big the current players may be.”
Frankly, the BCCI has to take much of the blame for what happened.
For one, Wright never had the comfort of a two-year contract (sensibly given to Chappell) ' instead, he kept getting extensions and that diluted his authority.
Then, there’s no professional manager to enforce discipline and allow the coach to focus wholly on matters cricket.
Also, the coach is only invited to selection committee meetings and doesn’t have a vote.
Given what exists, it didn’t surprise that just hours before ending his four-and-half year innings with Team India, Wright (in an interview to this newspaper) called for overhauling the selection process.
Now, Chappell’s moves on selection will be watched with interest.