May 13, 2001

Wright begins 'camp with a purpose' in Bangalore

Ever since John Wright conducted his first full length preparatory camp before the Australia series, there has been much speculation on the methods used. People wondered what Wright would do differently from the Indian coaches who preceded him. There was widespread praise for his approach, and the odd criticism as well. At the end of the triumphant Test series against Australia however, everything was forgotten in the euphoria of celebration. With all that behind Wright and the Indian team, and a gruelling set of tours in the offing, the preparations have resumed in right earnest.

Wright was lavish in his praise when talking about the facilities served up in Chennai for the preparatory camp before the Australia tour. The Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bangalore hosts the current camp, and no doubt will be able to match the facilities that Chennai boasts. Talking to reporters, Wright said he would emphasise on the fitness of the players and added the players would be put on a fitness test from day one of the camp. "The other departments of the game would also be looked into. Benchmarks would be set up for each player and their performance would be carefully watched," he said.

Each camp has its own focus, and this is as good as any in preparation for the tour of Zimbabwe. With the conditions likely to be different from those at home, fitness will play a vital role. Also, long tours mean that players spend more and more time in each others' company. To this end, Wright has already begun to stress on the need for team building. Apart from all the usual fitness and training drills that the team does as a group, Wright has introduced things like a team breakfast together and group barbeque lunches to bring the group together. "It is good that everyone has met each other and get to know well since their arrival yesterday here," said Wright, referring to the presence of a few new faces in the squad.

Although Zimbabwe have no stars to match the calibre of a Sachin Tendulkar, they certainly can pull together as a team. In that light, Wright guarded against any growing complacency. A win against Australia is all very good. However, India's away record leaves a lot to be desired, and this is as good a time as any to change that. Wright said India could not take Zimbabwe lightly as "Zimbabwe is a good playing side on home conditions." He added "But the team will have to play well to win."

The selection of eight mediumpacers in the squad of twenty six was a cause of concern for some pundits. Wright however had no doubt in his mind that there was no mistake on that count. "We need them all here," said Wright, adding quickly that Javagal Srinath was in as good shape as anyone else.

John Wright is a man who doesn't mess about. This is a camp with a purpose - to prepare India adequately to have a serious shot at improving their record abroad. When the final squad of 15 is selected on the May 17, it will quickly be clear whether Wright has been able to put together a crack team or not.