| John Wright
Vijayawada: For John Wright, the upcoming tour of New Zealand wonít be like any other. The former captain, after all, will be landing as Indiaís coach. And, after years in the home teamís dressing-rooms, across New Zealand, he will now have a seat in the ones earmarked for visiting sides.
Wright, who has just completed two years as India coach, spoke to The Telegraph at the team hotel (DV Manor) here Saturday evening. Pressed for time, he could largely only answer New Zealand-specific queries.
The following are excerpts
On his thoughts just before the start of Indiaís tour of New Zealand
Iíll be very happy if we can play good cricket... In fact, Iíve already begun asking players to do me a favour by producing consistently good cricket. In some ways, itís going to be special... People Iíve grown up with will, after all, see me in a new role.
On whether there will be mixed emotions
(Smiles) Not where Iím concerned. Indeed, Iím part of a professional sport... If I was involved with New Zealand, I would want them to win. Today, Iím associated with India and, so, would like Souravís team to win. Iíve been working hard... Iíve been going through the same highs and lows... Iíve felt the pressure, rejoiced in moments of triumph... My emotions, then, simply canít be mixed... I canít have divided loyalties.
On why visiting teams generally find the going tough in New Zealand
Because, by and large, wickets seam... You could get the odd good wicket but, with the ball moving about quite a bit, itís not easy. Then, it can get very cold and windy and wet. Itís demanding.
On what will remain a priority for the Indians
Working hard, no question about that... Specifically, the task for our seamers will be cut out... I do see an opportunity for us in the Test series. As for the one-dayers, one would like to play tough cricket in the lead-up to the World Cup. Clearly, New Zealand will be very competitive. Much is at stake, isnít it'
On whatís required for a team to be successful in New Zealand
Quite simple: Big scores. Weíll have to play the way we did at Trent Bridge and Headingley.
On New Zealand cricketís top strength
Playing as a team and playing tenaciously... They hang around and donít give up. Without going into too many details, itís quite evident that they bat till low down and, in recent times, Bond has been quite a find. Having said that, we do have the skill and talent to beat New Zealand.
On whether, in the past decade, New Zealand cricket has improved
The one-day team, certainly, is better... Purely in terms of organisation, I think itís more professional. (Adds after a pause) New Zealand is a small country and, so, thereís always the desire to do well versus the bigger nations. We had that feeling when I was playing and, Iím sure, that continues. We always wanted to prove a thing or two when up against the superstars... Always wanted to prove a point. More than anything else, this attitude has helped New Zealand script a few surprises.
On the ODIs versus the West Indies
No one likes losing, but we did learn some hard lessons. Looking back, on the eve of the decider, we werenít hungry enough in the series-opener (Jamshedpur) and, frankly, ought never to have lost after putting 283 (for six) on board. At the same time, the series seems to have solved one or two of our problems, one or two questions appear to have got answered. Itís surely been a help towards getting the right personnel for South Africa. Bangar' He responded under pressure and hasnít done his (World Cup) chances any harm.
On character and passion, key attributes in his book
This team has both. At the same time, I donít wish to dismiss the contribution of the others Iíve worked with. The Samir Dighes, for instance. Today, the youngsters have gained in confidence and, for any side, thatís a big thing.
On two years as India coach
(Emotionally) We are on the right track and I must place on record the excellent work being put in by (physio) Andrew and (trainer) Adrian... Whatís the biggest difference between now and November of 2000' Well, the boys are proud to be Indians and wonít give up without letting fly all the ammunition. Theyíve become fighters and donít get intimidated. (After a pause) What we do lack, though, is a bunch of quality fast bowlers... Basically, we need a pool of ten... That will ensure healthy competition and encourage better performances. If you ask me, we need to analyse the present system and, then, work out ways of unearthing fast bowlers. Iím convinced some are around.
Finally, if it comes to that, whether he will be comfortable having a specialist bowling coach as part of the support Ďteamí
Getting specialists isnít a bad idea. Yet, at the same time, you need to get the right person... Somebody who will fit into the support Ďteamí as it exists. You canít make ad-hoc appointments and, personally, I havenít asked for a bowling coach. In case I do, Iíll first make a presentation to Mr Dalmiya. In fact, thereís been no communication on this.