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'We played as hard as we could' - Wright

Sharda Ugra

April 20, 2011

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John Wright will be relieved after his first game as New Zealand coach, New Zealand v Pakistan, 1st Twenty20, Auckland, December 26, 2010
John Wright: "I'm all for player power, particularly if it's on the field" © Getty Images
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New Zealand coach John Wright has said his team was past its barren run preceding the World Cup, and its semi-final showing had proved that, "we can beat anyone". In an interview with ESPNcricinfo, Wright said the World Cup had helped both the morale and the belief of a team that last year had a 14-match ODI streak without a win. New Zealand was the only team from outside the subcontinent to make it to the World Cup semi-finals, ahead of four-time champions Australia and in-form South Africa.

"Losing the semi-final was bitterly disappointing but I hope the team has learnt," Wright said. "I think it has grown. What's important is that we just played as hard as we could with what we had, with the resources we had."

Wright took charge of the team two months before the World Cup, and oversaw Test and ODI series losses against Pakistan before the turnaround. He said his happiest time at the World Cup was "seeing a team start to believe in themselves and in each other. The fight they showed tells you the team can get better. We have the opportunities at this stage to get better."

Speaking last week, before the appointment of John Buchanan as New Zealand's Director of Cricket, Wright did not comment on his choice for the captaincy, or whether he has been given a say in selection matters. "The sooner all this is sorted the better, so the team can move forward and plan for the cricket ahead," Wright said, about the upcoming overhaul of the selection panel. New Zealand will travel to Australia and host South Africa next season, in addition to series against Zimbabwe and West Indies in early 2012.

Wright's two-year stint as the NZC's high performance manager has brought him in contact with the next generation of New Zealand cricketers. "We have got maybe five or six kids that really show a lot of potential," he said. "I have been really impressed with some of the talent I have seen in the last couple of years in under-17 and under-19 tournaments. I know that as long as we can put a playing programme in place that challenges the guys coming through and bridges the gap between first-class and international cricket, the ones that really want to make it, we could hopefully hold our own."

Among New Zealand's next generation, Wright pointed out that Kane Williamson had become part of the set-up and that seamer Adam Milne had also broken into the senior side. Wright said that, "as long as the administration makes the right cricketing decisions," there was no reason for New Zealand to worry about the public turning away from cricket. He believed the advent of the IPL, and pay packets of a scale beyond New Zealand cricket's capacity, could stimulate interest in the game.

Wright said creating competitive playing opportunities for New Zealand's next line should be a key focus area going forward. "One of the things I learnt in India is that you are so dependent on the bit that goes on underneath the national team ... In India, regular A-team touring made a lot of difference. It creates heat on the incumbents, which is good because you don't want comfort zones. Then again, the selection has to be very accurate and ruthless and you have to have succession planning."

Wright didn't believe too many cricketing countries got their succession systems quite right. "You have to be thinking a year ahead at least, that doesn't mean you're changing the team now but you know you have to. You can't stand still."

Until December, when his tenure began, NZC's distancing from Wright bordered on the inexplicable. It was commonly blamed on the influence exerted by the players' association over decision-making until the results started to go completely pear-shaped. When asked for his views on New Zealand's player power, Wright's reply was deadpan. "I'm all for player power, particularly if it's on the field," he said.

Wright said he had enjoyed working with Daniel Vettori, who at one stage, was both captain and selector. "Dan's been great to work with and we have got to know each other," he said. "Dan tried to lead with performance on the field and he achieved that."

Sharda Ugra is senior editor at ESPNcricinfo

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© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by vaughanw on (April 23, 2011, 10:05 GMT)

Im not worried... think the future is very bright for NZ cricket... McCullum, Guptil, Taylor, Ryder, Williamson... thats going to be a pretty decent top 5 for a few years to come. And then imagine if Ross learns to hit straight, and Guptil uses his feet against spin (seemingly now he has no idea!!)... On the bowling front Southee look like hes developing well and its a matter of time before he starts taking bags of wickets in tests and Wagner is avail in 2012, and young Milne (though quick to add he hardly played for CD in the longer format this year - injured?). In my opinion we have often had the right players, its always been the administration of the game that has been a problem! too much internal politics or personality clashes! And appauling selection - Jamie how in the WC is a shinning example!!! And will Neil Broom ever make his test debut? But hopefully Wright, Buchannon, Donald will prove to be insprired signings and selection will be based on tallent and not mates!

Posted by bharath74 on (April 22, 2011, 7:39 GMT)

NZ cricket in safe hands as their coach is John Wright. NZ team showed a of promise since John appointment as their coach.

Posted by ihaq1 on (April 21, 2011, 12:36 GMT)

i think the south africans should have played the semi final even though new zealand look good but are not good enough...there upper order power hitteres did not work and they usually dont have a full strength bowling injured daniel vettori could not provide teh heroics zealand should go in with three front line fast bowlers and a spinner or two...mcullum should open and throw his bat around...probably nathan , vettori and styris should play the middle order if guptill, ryder, mcullum and ross taylor dont provide the enough runs than steadier batsmen should play the one dayers..a steady opening partnership did not appear to have materialized in teh world cup...south africa were the tougher side and methinks could have caused india problems in teh final...

Posted by   on (April 21, 2011, 12:33 GMT)

I'm not worried about New Zealand cricket, we have a young fast bowler improving all the time in Adam Milne and we've got Kane Williamson as a batsmen. Then you've got Guptil and Taylor who are both consistent batsmen along with Styris. And then you've got Brendan who is becoming a really good test batsmen. Then you've got a great coach in Wright. I'm not worried at all, the win agaisnt SA showed what we can do.

Pat Felix# NZ didn't deserve to win the WC, we did well to beat SA and get to the semis. Believe me, we will get to the final soon.

Posted by MeowCat on (April 21, 2011, 12:12 GMT)

Jesse Ryders performance in the IPL was a BRUTE! i always thought JD Ryder was a weak player and got out easily,but man now he is a "TOP" quality batsman.

Precious jem for PUNE Warriors

Posted by   on (April 21, 2011, 10:06 GMT)

I love NZ, but after a while hearing the coaches and players continue to say good things... one game at a time, bat, bowl and field well, learn from our mistakes or losses. six times to the semis and not one final. Every Team has won and lost a final besides NZ (SA since re instatement) and Bangledesh. But gee Look at Sri Lanka, started after us and have already been champions and lost in a final. If we don't keep moving forward we will find ourselves beeing caught by bangledesh who recently swept us in a series and emerging teams like ireland and netherlands. Sometimes being a supporter is long suffering. Why can't we get a whole team together at one time, with multiple stars performing and fit.

Posted by gothetaniwha on (April 21, 2011, 9:33 GMT)

Got to see Milne at Eden Park and Yeah he,s quick 150 + , hopefully NZ cricket gets Allan Donald signed up to work with him and Southee and co . Hey Nuxxy SA made QF - you lost to NZ LOL

Posted by ravikumarsinha on (April 21, 2011, 8:42 GMT)

always a promising side but not threatening. missing link is killer instinct. probably haka dance before one-day or t-20 will do it.

Posted by Nuxxy on (April 21, 2011, 7:51 GMT)

I have to wonder what would have happened if SA had made the quarter-finals. Not that they would have beaten Sri Lanka, but they would likely have made more of a challenge than NZ did. And then choked. lol

Posted by thehowlingfantod on (April 21, 2011, 7:04 GMT)

Nonsense. Guptil and Ryder are both superior batsmen to Taylor. McCullum (usually) earns his place. Williamson is very promising. The batting shouldn't be a problem under Wright's guiding hand. The bowling is a bit less certain. Southee is coming along, and there's some others waiting in the wings, but not too many players proven at the top level.

Posted by   on (April 21, 2011, 5:44 GMT)

newzeland needs few good batsmen at top... team is over-relying on Ross taylor... this was one of the main reason for NZ loss in the semis...

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