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Home > Cricket > World Cup 2003 > Interview > John Wright

'We cannot rest on our laurels'

March 05, 2003

John WrightIt is a lazy Sunday afternoon in Pretoria. India coach John Wright has the day off following the thumping victory over Pakistan. With a guitar and an old tattered music book, the New Zealander is busy trying to emulate quintessential singer-songwriter James Taylor.

With five victories in six matches at the World Cup, the Indian team is on song. Wright has ordered a two-day break for the boys.

"I don't see them and they don't see my face," he says, busy getting his chords right.

He warns against complacency, saying after the two-day break the minds will need to be sharpened again.

Faisal Shariff discussed the Indian team's showing thus far in the tournament with him. Excerpts:


What would you attribute the convincing win over Pakistan to?

We were reasonably in good frame of mind having defeated England at Durban. The England win was big for us. If we hadn't won that it would have been a huge pressure game for us. We were sloppy in our bowling performance; it was our worst bowling performance of the tournament with respect to the wides and no balls. I was sure the wicket would get better, so I wasn't worried that we were batting second. From the research we had done it was not a bad wicket for chasing.

[Sachin] Tendulkar was brilliant. Anyone who saw him bat live was privileged to have witnessed the best he has ever batted in a limited-overs game.

What did you think of Tendulkar's innings?

It was a brilliant innings because of its simplicity. At no stage did he play anything other than the correct shot to the correct ball; did not take any risks. He just played some shots off good balls. I don't think anyone would be able to play like that; it was flawless... his balance, his set-up and stance. It was a wonderful innings.

What was your game plan for the match?

Our game plan was simple: keep wickets in hand. From the point of view of India it was a great match, a big situation, and that's what a champion is all about. It brought about the best in Sachin. He started to play against England. It was one of those things. However, when we play we look to keep wickets. They dominated early.

What was the idea behind sending [Mohammad] Kaif at four?

Mohammed KaifDinesh [Mongia] struggled at four against England and Zimbabwe. Kaifi has been little under utilized. So we gave him the opportunity. It worked well for us. There was a lot of bonus for us. He has a high strike rate; is a good runner and has earned that chance. He had a rough run in New Zealand but he was not alone. The knock will do a lot of good for him.

Rahul Dravid has been regularly finishing games for us. He and Yuvraj [Singh] were outstanding this week. Against England they were good; yesterday [Saturday] they got hundred runs. I am very pleased for Yuvraj; he is growing up as a cricketer and he is a good prospect for us. You need temperament in big games and I think the four players delivered.

How do you assess Yuvraj's performance?

He is more aware of the demands of international cricket. He is more secure about his place in the side. He is more disciplined. He needs to understand that he needs to hit straight back down the ground. He has played very well under pressure. He has potential for Test cricket as well.

Our fifth bowler option is still a weak link...

These wickets are easy to bowl on. That was one of the areas which worked well for us. Our fifth bowler, which is normally very expensive for us, went very cheaply for us. It went for 50-odd runs. We have the option now that we can go with six batsmen and five bowlers. It is nice to have some batting up your sleeve. There are times when we can't get through the fifth bowler's spot, but we will have to look at that down the line.

How have the players come back after the defeat against Australia and the tour of New Zealand?

This is a big tournament; it doesn't get bigger than this. If you are not hungry then I think you should just get on a plane and go home. They are very confident now that they have gone through to the Super Sixes and they know that they are playing well enough to go all the way. Also, the disappointments back home after the defeat to Australia has sharpened the mind.

The only way to change people's reaction is by performance on the field. That might have been positive. I will do some sharpening of the mind over the next couple of days. We cannot rest on our laurels.

The Pakistan team seemed disbanded while the Indian team has pulled together as a unit of late...

Good group. I think the fitness with Adrian [Le Roux] has helped. We have a batting unit, bowling unit and fielding unit. Everyone is expected to contribute to that and we will have a person who will speak on a game plan for each of the areas. The team will work on a team plan, which the players have developed at the start of the competition. SRT [Tendulkar] and RD [Dravid] are in charge of the batting unit, but [Sanjay] Bangar talked about the batting and what we will achieve. He was excellent. He made some excellent points and the ideas he conveyed were good. Kaifi and Yuvraj run fielding. The bowling is Harbhajan's; about what we are trying to achieve in the bowling. We are trying to get people to stick to top game plans and not play the way they want to do. You have to play and stick to the game plan. They can play the way they want to but they have to achieve goals for the team. You need players who are accountable. It seems to be working. We are here in a serious competition. We have got to the first stage now; we need to get to the semi-final stage.

Coach, worried about your captain's form?

We need to have both [Virender] Sehwag and [Sourav] Ganguly give us more runs at the top. They are in crucial positions. He got out first ball against Pakistan. There is little you can do about that, but he is looking good in the nets and I know he will come good on a big occasion. I know he will get runs when it matters. Sehwag is getting out in careless ways and he needs to tighten up and produce more runs for the team.

Lastly, a word for Ashish Nehra.

He bowled well one day and didn't have much rhythm yesterday. We needed it against England. Ashish had a very good tour of New Zealand. They regarded him as a handful. He really wanted to play against England and it was one of those days when everything went fine.

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Number of User Comments: 3

Sub: kudos

team ,coach,mgmt,pshychologist everybody was responsible for the win

Posted by Shyam

Sub: All Credit to team & Mgmt

We all have seen how brilliant each of these players can be individually be but i bow to the brilliant management and professional attitude that ...

Posted by Ashish Tripathi

Sub: inciting the coach, faisal?

Trying to incite the coach, huh, do a wee bit of niggling, isn't it Faisal? "Coach, woried about the captain's form?" huh? Rather dissapointing for ...

Posted by Koustuv


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