Hamilton: Former India coach John Wright reckons incumbent Gary Kirsten is better than him as a motivator and says Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s men have what it takes to become the top team in both Tests and one-dayers.
Former South Africa opening batsman Kirsten joined the Indian team as coach last year, replacing the controversial Greg Chappell, and steered the side to Test series wins over Australia and England apart from a number of series triumphs in one-dayers.
“Oh he’s (Kirsten) probably better, well I know he did score more runs than me. He is very thoughtful and very passionate and I think he understands the importance and the privilege of coaching India,” said Wright, who was India’s coach from 2000 to 2005.
“And you have to understand how things work. You bring some ideas from outside India but there is also an understanding of how things are best handled and getting to know your players and keeping them contented and happy and confident and being able to correct them when they need to,” Wright told reporters.
Wright, currently a New Zealand selector, also felt the support staff that works with Kirsten has given the team a professional approach.
“Every coach is a little bit different but him and Paddy (Upton) and of course Robin (Singh) and Venky (Venkatesh Prasad), the whole support team looks very professional.”
Wright also singled out Sachin Tendulkar for special praise, saying the champion batsman has the ability to score a total of 100 centuries in both Tests and one-dayers.
He also said that Tendulkar should play in the 2011 World Cup to be held in the sub-continent as his experience will be a big advantage for the team.
Wright, who guided India to the World Cup runners-up place in 2003, felt Dhoni’s men have to perform in the big series if they want to grab top spot in both one-day and Test rankings.
“We think now that Australia, India and South Africa – they look pretty good. Australia clawed a bit back with their series win the other night in South Africa.
“But if you get into that area, you have the ability to win, to be ranked and those are the series you have to take care of. But along the way you’ve got to look after New Zealand in New Zealand, which sometimes can be problematic,” he said.
Even though India demolished the Kiwis in the one-dayers, the former New Zealand captain predicted an engrossing Test series that starts in Hamilton on March 18.
“We have to play right upto our potential. Certainly we have to pick up wickets, because if you don’t pick wickets against this (Indian) batting side, they are going to get a lot of runs very quickly,” said Wright.