May 17, 2001

Attention to detail is Wright's hallmark

Sourav Ganguly's latest consignment of bats arrived from Meerut just after the Indian captain finished his stint out in the 'open nets' at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bangalore. A man in love with cricket bats, Ganguly chooses a fresh batch of blades before each tour. The six-week tour to Zimbabwe is no exception. The open nets itself had an atmosphere of great purpose without being overbearing or sombre. John Wright, behind the bowler's arm watched over every ball as the probables slogged away.

The idea is a simple one and not new at all. A simulated match situation out in the middle, with the fast bowlers and spinners operating in turns ensued. The first to enter were Ganguly and VVS Laxman, while the other batsmen waited their turns. In time all batsmen had a stint out in the middle and the bowlers were a tired lot. Perhaps that's what prompted the local boys to chip in and help with preparations. Anil Kumble was in for a quick session but left early. Sunil Joshi, Venkatesh Prasad and Dodda Ganesh spent a lot of time bowling despite not being in the list of probables selected by the board.

In the coaching department, Wright was not alone. Roger Binny moved across from the National Cricket Academy (NCA) and helped the Kiwi conduct the practice sessions. Erapalli Prasanna finished his stint with the NCA boys and he too cast his watchful eye over the Indian seniors for a while. The atmosphere at the camp was as healthy as one could expect. All drills happened in right earnest with no one being exempted for any reason. When not out in the middle, the players were by the sidelines practicing throwing.

At first it seemed strange that the players should be spending so much time practicing throwing. Closer inspection however, made it clear that this was yet another of Wright's moves. Showing a keen attention to detail, Wright is attempting to make sure that all Indian cricketers throw with the right action. Concentrating on position and shift in body weight, Wright is attempting to minimise the shoulder injuries that have laid low more than one Indian bowler in the recent past.

With team selection due soon, the selectors have all gathered in Bangalore. And seldom has their job been easier. Although the likes of Yuvraj Singh, Virender Shewag and Ajay Ratra are shaping up well, it is difficult to see them making the trip to Zimbabwe. Five seamers, two spinners, seven batsmen and one stumper seems to be the mantra.