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July 30, 2006
John Wright, the former Indian coach, whose comments on India's selection system have elicited strong responses from former national selectors, has clarified his stance, saying that he had nothing against any of the individuals involved but blamed the system on the whole. Wright also recommended that people read his recently-released book, John Wright's Indian Summers, where these statements were made, before forming any sort of judgement.
"Selection is something I deal with in a chapter," he said speaking exclusively to Cricinfo, "and I've never been a great fan of that system. I think it's hard on the selectors. I enjoyed a lot of selectors. Chandu Borde and the lot were good. I've met some very fine selectors and some good men and made some good friends in the selection group that I've worked with. They were doing their best but there was a lot of pressure on them because of the system and I've always maintained that. I'm not saying my view is correct but I would have thought that it would be better to have someone who was fully paid, professional, covering the national team, the A team, the Under 19s etc. That's just my view - whether people agree with me or not is their prerogative."
Surprised that the comments had created such a stir, Wright stressed that he had always maintained that the selection process needed to be scrutinised. "If you go back to an interview I did just after the English series (in Wisden Asia Cricket), you'll see my opinion there," he continued. "I think selection is an issue, I've always thought it needs scrutiny because my opinion as a coach is that selection is more critical than coaching. Picking the right people is more important than coaching. And that will never change. By and large, the selectors that I worked with did a good job. The more you can get better in that area, the better it is. It's not about this guy or that guy, it's about the system. I always felt that we needed a selector on tour, it would make the whole job a lot easier. But that's just my opinion. The BCCI can make its own judgements and have its own system. It's a tough job, such a big country."
But did Wright ever feel things would have changed if he had been more outspoken? "I've always told the various presidents - Dalmiya, Muttiah - Raj Singh, convenors of the various selection panels about exactly what I felt. And it thought it was their business. Those conversations weren't public and neither are any of them recorded in the book but I certainly gave my views. My style is different. I suppose some people may be shocked to read my views in this publication."
Siddhartha Vaidyanathan is staff writer of CricinfoFeeds: Siddhartha Vaidyanathan
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