The Wright choice

Published : Sep 08, 2001 00:00 IST

INDIAN cricket is in safe hands. I am not saying this because the team won at Kandy. The result counted, but then what made the difference was the fact that the trio of John Wright, Sourav Ganguly and Rahul Dravid had plenty of reasons to smile after going through some miserable periods in Zimbabwe and the first half of the Sri Lankan tour.

The dark clouds of defeat at Galle had left the Indian dressing room in a state of depression and I can say from experience it can be so very shattering. Each defeat weakens the base of your game and does have an impact on the overall approach of the side. The critics also multiply in such situations and the players tend to forget even the basics.

It is not easy to maintain your focus consistently when playing international cricket. True, one has to be at his best, but then the challenges seem to vary from session to session and match to match. The game itself has made some rapid progress and requires utmost dedication. Thanks to the technical backup available, the level of the game has gone up worldwide and I am happy to say that India finally has raised hopes of keeping pace with the times and the results are bound to show during the season ahead.

The man working tirelessly to improve the state of the Indian team - John Wright - has remained in the background all this while. The world may not be aware of his contribution, but the team knows the value of Wright as a coach who has only the interest of the team at heart. He can be soft and he can be tough, but he remains the most positive influence on the team.

I know the term coach sounds misplaced because players at this level do not need to be coached. They need to be guided and Wright to my mind is the best man to take charge of a team which has the potential and only needs to be shown the right path to follow.

Having played competitive cricket at the highest level with distinction and shared his wisdom with the youngsters in County cricket for a long time, Wright stands out for his commitment. I know this term commitment is referred to quite frequently, but then there can be no substitute to hard work and commitment and this genial Kiwi sends the right message to the boys by setting personal example.

Wright has struck such a fine rapport with Ganguly and Dravid that I can foresee some exciting times for the team. Of course, the team still has flaws to sort out but then Wright is working on the shortcomings one by one. We have to give him some more time before drawing conclusions on his calibre to guide the side.

I am happy for Ganguly. Hounded by critics for long, the captain has managed to keep himself afloat. These have been extremely tough times for the much-misunderstood Bengali, but I am convinced he has the credentials to script Indian cricket's revival on all fronts in world cricket.

Ganguly may have had his low moments on the field - being fined for dissent and being targetted for his behaviour - but let me assure you that his concentration has always been on bringing glory to the side. He is not the kind who will take things lying down and the home series against Australia was the best example. He taught the Aussies a lesson by dealing with them in the same manner as they deal with the others. He invited criticism from the visiting media, but in my opinion it did not matter because he was always on target, inspiring his team to crush the opposition.

Indian cricket needs someone like Ganguly who will stand up to the authorities and fight for his team. He is always demanding and often making very valid demands on the Board. How many past captains have had the guts to speak up for the youngsters in the selection committee meetings? Ganguly is known to back youngsters and what impressed me most was that he made no discrimination when assessing the ammunition available.

None can accuse Ganguly of backing his statemates. He has the team's interest in mind and it quite reflected in the manner in which he fought for Harbhajan Singh, Yuveraj Singh and Virender Sehwag. None of them play for Bengal.

In Dravid, the team management has a cricketer who has a very crafty cricketing mind. I have followed Dravid's career very closely, have seen him from close quarters during the time when we played together and I can vouch for the man's devotion to cricket. He has a tremendous ability to analyse the game and it is this quality which comes in handy when the team management plans its tactics.

Ganguly and Dravid, along with Sachin Tendulkar, are the pillars of strength for Indian cricket. I am not counting V. V. S. Laxman out, but the Hyderabadi has some distance to travel.

He is no doubt an integral part of the Indian batting line up but the team has to look up to Ganguly, Dravid and Tendulkar to deliver consistently. And for that to happen it is essential that Dravid should bat at number three followed by Tendulkar and Ganguly.

Technically impeccable and possessing a fantastic temperament, Dravid is a great asset for the side and he has shown with his performances that he is at his best when playing overseas.

I am confident that he will be the key to India's success overseas when the team travels to South Africa, West Indies and England.

The trio of Wright, Ganguly and Dravid has worked relentlessly towards raising a fighting unit. The team has a lot of youngsters who have to be groomed to stand up bravely against some very mean opponents.

There is a fair amount of consistency in selection matters now and the captain is doing a decent job of honing the young forces in the side.

It is important that Ganguly receives support from the well-wishers of Indian cricket.

He has been working hard on removing the flaws in his approach and it will be in the interest of Indian cricket that he stays at the helm for a long period. He has the mental toughness to deal with any opposition. He proved it against the Australians at home and now against the Lankans at Kandy.

More stories from this issue

Sign in to unlock all user benefits
  • Get notified on top games and events
  • Save stories to read later
  • Access to comment on every story
  • Sign up / manage to our newsletters with a single click
  • Get notified by email for early bird access to discounts & offers to our products
Sign in


Comments have to be in English, and in full sentences. They cannot be abusive or personal. Please abide to our community guidelines for posting your comment