Thirteen years ago,John Wright was in charge of an extremely talented yet under-performing team who were up against a champion outfit on a long winning streak. At the helm was a young captain. Back at the Eden Gardens on Sunday,the setting was all too familiar.
By the end of the game,John Wright had once again helped a bunch of Indians attain their tryst with glory. Mumbai Indians’ achievement of winning their maiden IPL crown might have been dwarfed by the unsavoury goings on on the periphery of the tournament,but Wright had once again succeeded in blending a motley crew of superstars into a united fighting force.
Not surprisingly,as Rohit Sharma & Co went ballistic in their celebration,the Kiwi coach remained hidden in the background,including when his team posed for the photograph with the trophy. Just like he did during his four-year stint as India coach,he’s preferred driving his charges avoiding even the unrelenting glare of the IPL cameras.
In his biography Indian Summers,Wright spoke about being shocked by the mollycoddling extended to cricketers in India back then and how he had instilled his own regimen of discipline. With Mumbai,he hasn’t had to be that hands-on,and according to those around him,has been more of a man-manager.
Wright’s reticent style won him many admirers during his India reign,and it’s been the same here too. He’s been largely responsible for keeping the spirits high even in the face of defeat,with his indefatigable humour. He’s always been the first to put an arm around those having a rough day. Wright’s kept away from speeches and focused on one-on-one sessions,especially with the younger players of
The presence of battled hardened veterans like Anil Kumble,Ricky Ponting and Sachin Tendulkar has helped him in his quest. And he’s spent most of his time during practice sessions with the likes of Rishi Dhawan,Aditya Tare and Nathan Coulter-Nile.Wright was the first foreign coach to overcome the many vagaries and challenges of the cricket setup in India without ever creating fussing. And it makes you wonder why it’s taken five seasons for a franchise to rope him in. But having led Mumbai to the title in his very first stint,it’s safe to say that he is definitely here to stay now.
Bharat is a principal correspondent based in Mumbai.