Colombo, March 27 (IANS) If there is one man in the New Zealand camp who feels at home in the sub-continent, it is their coach John Wright. A highly successful coach of India, his inputs may have gone a long way in carrying the Black Caps to the semifinals.
What Wright has done with this New Zealand squad in just a matter of a few days is amazing. He took over barely a month before the team left for the World Cup when their cricket had sunk to abysmal depths.
Wright was handed over the reins of a team that lost 11-matches on the trot, including the 0-4 thrashing against Bangladesh. Today, it is the lone team from outside the subcontinent in the semis.
Wright for sure knows the conditions in the subcontinent like the back of his palm. The five successful years with the Indian team has taught him everything that can be learnt cricket-wise in this part of the world.
There is a languid air about Wright as he took charge of the nets Sunday at the historic P. Sara Oval ahead of the semifinal clash against Sri Lanka. The quaint backdrop of the ground perfectly gelled with Wright’s low profile and affable personality.
“We have changed a few things in the team and it has worked well,” said the man of few words when approached by the Indian media after the practice.
“The victory against South Africa has given us a lot of confidence. No one really expected us to win, but we made it possible by bowling extremely well. We kept South Africa under pressure and we have to keep going that way.
“We enjoyed the victory and now we have to move on. We start afresh against Sri Lanka. It will be a difficult match.”
Wright is not surprised with three sub-continental teams reaching the last four. Did his stint with the Indian team help the Black Caps formulating the strategy? “A little bit I guess,” he said.
As the coach of high-profile Indian team, Wright has focused on keeping things simple. And that’s what he wants from New Zealand, too.
“We have to bat well. We managed to put up some runs against South Africa and that gave us a chance. The boys are learning and improving. We need to have wickets in hand during the last overs and get early wickets to put pressure.”
“We will have to sit and discuss our bowling combination for the match and as to which four bowlers we can pick.”
When a New Zealand media official sought to cut short Wright’s pleasant interaction with the Indian correspondents, he told him with a smile: “Don’t worry they know me more than the New Zealand media.”
The talk naturally veered around India-Pakistan semifinal clash. “That’s the question everyone is asking,” said Wright holding his thoughts to himself as always.