Wright hits out at Indian selectors in book
John Wright has expressed his frustration with the selection policy prevalent during his stint as coach of the Indian team. He has also admitted to being perplexed at the decision to appoint Sunil Gavaskar as consultant for the Test series against Australia in 2004-05 and has revealed that it was done at the behest of Sourav Ganguly.
In his book Indian Summers Wright says that the selectors were parochial and tried to plug for players from their own zone. "The first six or seven selections were straightforward. But when it got down to the marginal selections, those last three or four spots that determine the balance of the team and your ability to develop new players, the zonal factor kicked in and things would get interesting," Wright was quoted as saying in the book by Mid Day, a Mumbai-based tabloid.
"It was easy to tell when selectors had come to a meeting with an agenda, ie to try their damnedest to get one or two players from their zones into the team. If their boys weren't picked, they tended to cross their arms, clam up and take no further part in the meeting." Wright worked with five selection committees, headed by Chandu Borde (twice), Brijesh Patel, Syed Kirmani and Kiran More.
He reveals that VVS Laxman and Mohammad Kaif were the ones who felt the heat of the selectors' whims the most. "VVS Laxman and Kaif are examples of outstanding performers who always seemed to be only one or two failures away from having their places questioned."
Wright felt that the time was right for a change of leadership towards the end of his tenure. "As much as I respect Sourav Ganguly and acknowledge his record as captain and his contribution to Indian cricket, I believe there were sound arguments for a change in leadership towards the end of my stint. There might well have been times when he favoured a change in a coach. What really mattered was the two of us saw the bigger picture, worked as a partnership to provide leadership on and off the field and got results. In that last season, though, the results dried up."
He reveals the hand of Ganguly behind Gavaskar's appointment as consultant in the home series against Australia and admits to being unhappy with the move. "Two days before the first Test [in Bangalore] I was notified that the legendary Sunil Gavaskar would be joining us as a batting consultant. I couldn't work out how it had happened," Wright says, also indicating that he had in fact asked for some assistance for the bowlers, not the batsmen. "Gavaskar solved the mystery by revealing in a team meeting that he had a text message from Ganguly. I was far from happy because as the head coach I should have had the final say on support staff issues.
"The more people in the room the more shoulders to cry on, the more chance of mixed messages and the more potential for players to go off in different directions. But if the captain decides to bring someone into the camp two days out from a Test against the best team in the world, there's not a hell of a lot you can do about it."
Wright's book will be launched at Christchurch, in New Zealand, on Tuesday.