| John Wright
Calcutta, July 30: Years ago, a leading publication wrote that John Geoffrey Wright, now 52, had the ďmost beautiful manners of his generationĒ.
Essentially, that he was a pucca gentleman.
The former New Zealand captain, perhaps, became even more of a gentleman during his four-and-a-half years as Team India coach.
Wright rarely gave one-on-ones to the media and, even when he did, made sure no feathers got ruffled.
Clearly, everything about him was understated.
Off-the-record, however, Wright did open up quite a bit. One such instance being when he spoke to The Telegraph (in Delhi) on his penultimate day as coach ' April 16, 2005.
Much of that centred on three seniors and leadership.
Extracts from his book, Indian Summers, have created a storm. His quotes that evening, though, were more explosive.
I sought Wrightís permission to use the off-the-record bits, particularly as heíd already raised the leadership issue in his book, but he declined.
Wright, however, did speak for around 20 minutes when contacted in Christchurch this afternoon.
The following are excerpts:
The Telegraph: Congratulations, youíre now an author, too'
John Wright: (Laughs) Donít know whether becoming one is such a good thing!
TT: When did you decide to write Indian Summers'
JW: One of the publishers (in New Zealand) approached me eight-nine months ago' Thatís when it all started.
TT:You were maintaining a diary during your years with Team India'
JW: Off and on, not every day' Iíd also been storing a few things in my laptop' Iíd done the same during my years as Kentís coach.
TT:A news agency reported Sourav Ganguly-specific extracts from your book yesterday and that has made headlines. Your reaction'
JW: I wasnít aware' Look, people should read the entire book before concluding anything' Just going by bits and pieces wonít be fair either to me or to the person Iíve written about' (After a pause) I believe Iíve been fair and, overall, itís a book which shows Indian cricket in a positive light. Itís constructive and I havenít set out to lose the many friends I made during my years in India.
TT:Now that youíve written about Sourav and the captaincy, can I go public with your private views on leadership'
JW: No' Please let that remain between friends' (Again, after a pause) Sourav and I had some great times, but there also were moments of disappointment' Towards the end of our partnership, the results had dried up and it was a time for change' I was, in any case, leaving'
TT: Is it possible for Sourav to make a comeback'
JW: For his sake, I hope he does' The only way for anybody to strengthen his case is to get runs' Sourav may not have got big runs for Northants, but the good thing is that he hasnít spent the summer at home.
TT: How often did Sourav seek your help to rectify shortcomings as a batsman'
JW: Sourav has been a great player' His record (over 15,000 runs in Tests and ODIs) is testimony to that' Yet, all batsmen have strengths and weaknesses' Sourav was concerned about his batting, but a coach canít go beyond trying to iron out deficiencies.
TT: Are you aware that Sourav obliquely attacked Jagmohan Dalmiya in an e-mail a shade over a week ago'
JW: I saw that on the net, yes' During the time that I was in India, Mr Dalmiya came across as a strong ally of Sourav'
TT: Your thoughts on the first nine months of the Rahul Dravid era'
JW: Rahulís been doing a very fine job' His batting hasnít suffered and the two innings (81 and 68) he played in the last Test against the West Indies, four weeks ago, were out of this world' One would go miles to watch them.
TT: What about your successor, Greg Chappell'
JW: The team is making progress' If I can add, itís in good hands.
TT: Are you peeved that some still keep suggesting you were soft'
JW: I wasnít, but you must ask the boys that' Of course, itís a fact that I never aired my views in public' The label doesnít worry me, though.
TT: The extract contained a reference to the selectors'
JW: (Interrupting) Theyíve got a tough job and it doesnít help that they get Ďvotedí out during the Boardís AGM' The selectors should get appointed on professional terms and their tenure not linked to what happens in the AGM. Last year itself, Iíd told you that the zonal system must be done away with.
TT: Well, the book is out of the way. What now'
JW: (Laughs again) Iím looking for a job and looking for something to keep myself warm! It has been a bitterly cold winter in New Zealand.