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In crisis, NZ make the 'Wright' choice

Friday, December 24, 2021
© Cricket Nirvana

The decision to accept the job of the head coach for New Zealand might have been sudden for John Wright but definitely not a hard one to make.

"Coaching's not about telling or ordering. It's more about helping create an environment where good players who want to learn can get on." © AFP

"I thought once Mark [Greatbatch] got the opportunity that's probably it. My appointment was very sudden and unexpected. But it wasn't that difficult a choice, Wright told the Press.

"To be honest a day into the job you think, given the track record of some of our coaches, it's a pretty demanding task. You get a honeymoon period when people say nice things, and then you hope results go your way."

Wright had a dream run as India’s first foreign coach in the early 2000s as under him the team went from strength to strength, improving their overseas record and also reaching the final of the 2003 World Cup. A successful stint with India resulted in various coaching offers pouring his way but he rejected them all.

"When I finished in India I was pretty burnt out. I needed a spell [away from the game]. I had quite a few offers in that period and there were a couple I thought a lot about but they just weren't right. Then I started working for New Zealand Cricket putting together a replacement structure for the academy, and a winter programme for our promising kids coming through the ranks."

Wright’s appointment comes at a time when New Zealand are going through their leanest patch, having lost 11 consecutive ODI which includes clean sweeps in Bangladesh and India. However, the crisis will not induce the icy-cool Wright to change his working style or do anything drastic. He plans to go about the business in the same unassuming way that he did in India.

"I will keep things very simple. There'll be a period of getting to know each other. With any change it takes a bit of settling down. We'll sit down and have a chat and go out with a simple game plan and see where we get to. I've always tried to help players understand what needs to be achieved to win games. That's simple stuff.

"But you don't want to tell them how to do it because the good ones work it out for themselves. Coaching's not about telling or ordering. It's more about helping create an environment where good players who want to learn can get on."

Wright’s approach has sometimes been looked at as soft and laidback, but instead of worrying about the criticism, he wants to produce the results. "I've got a pretty good understanding of myself and I expect to be described in all sorts of ways in the next 15 months or so. But in the end you're judged by the progress you make. When I finish this job, I just hope I've made a difference. Then people can judge you."