| John Wright |
John Wright, India’s longest-serving coach from overseas (November 2000-April 2005), briefly spoke to The Telegraph at the ITC Gardenia, in Bangalore, after the IPL auction.
Wright, now 59, is with the Mumbai Indians (MI) as head coach.
Q Well, MI scored a double, winning the IPL and the CLT20, in 2013, your first year at the franchise. Won’t that put you and the franchise under pressure, this year?
A Pressure was there and will always be there... The IPL is a great league, on a par with the EPL and the NBA. There’s a lot at stake and a lot of passion at play. Every franchise wants to win, so there has to be pressure.
After the auction, you must be quite happy with the MI squad...
Very happy. After retaining five players, we further tried to keep the core of last year’s group... We needed to give importance to quality, which is why we bought Corey Anderson... We’ve also bought Michael Hussey... In (captain) Rohit Sharma and Hussey, we have solid batsmen, with Anderson and Kieron Pollard around to provide the power-hitting... Our bowling is strong and we’re delighted to have Zaheer Khan back.
Dinesh Karthik is with the Delhi DareDevils now...
Retaining only five had been difficult. (Outside the retentions) We couldn’t get everybody on board this year, too... But we have a very interesting team.
What are you looking forward to the most?
Seeing how well this lot does... Some new players are actually pretty much the same as the players we lost. We’ll be up against strong teams, but I’m very happy with the squad we have. Remember, there’s a budget cap, so there are constraints. After the first day (of the auction), we had to be careful.
Is it one thing to have a good squad and quite another to get the players together as a cohesive unit?
(Grins) The challenge is (a) to put a team together; (b) to create an atmosphere around the team. We’re the defending champions and we’ll be looking to win every match.
Won’t you miss Sachin Tendulkar?
Yeah, I will. But you never know with Sachin, he could just pop up in the dressing room! That has to be decided by the owners, the management, and him.
Would you like Sachin to be involved?
From my point of view, any involvement from Sachin would be wonderful. He’s an old friend, as are Bhajji (Harbhajan Singh) and Zaheer.
They were your wards during your India years...
I enjoyed working with each one of them... Sachin, Bhajji, Zaheer.
[Wright, incidentally, enquired about former India captain Sourav Ganguly, for whom he has much affection.]
Do some things have to be done differently in T20?
Because T20 is a different format, a different set of skills are required... Being positive is important... It’s important to be in the right frame of mind. I say that because the game changes so fast... You have to be in the right space mentally. Personally, I find T20 a fantastic format.
The last one... What are your emotions when India play New Zealand, a country you’ve captained (and coached)?
I have mixed feelings. I’d like New Zealand to win, but I love seeing India do well.