Shape up or ship out, warns Wright

Published: Tuesday, November 16, 2004, 23:53 [IST]
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New Delhi:India's cricket coach John Wright took a swipe at his losing team, saying the players must show the "hunger to win" to overcome the current slump or be ready to face the axe.

Wright, the former New Zealand Test captain, said he was very disappointed with India's recent performances which saw them lose four consecutive one-dayers to arch-rivals Pakistan and also concede their first home Test series to Australia since 1969.

"I want more hunger and the hunger to win," the 50-year-old told the Mid-Day newspaper ahead of the first Test against Graeme Smith's South Africa starting at the Green Park stadium in Kanpur on Saturday.

"We are up against a side that will show a lot of commitment and character. It is going to be a tough series and we have to match it."

Wright said no player in the Indian team, which comprises some of the game's top stars like Sachin Tendulkar, captain Sourav Ganguly, Rahul Dravid and Virender Sehwag, could take his place for granted.

"There are a lot of people who want to play for India and if people are not performing well, then they should not stay because of reputation or whatever reasons," the newspaper quoted Wright as saying.

"Personally, I can cope with defeats but when I see carelessness, lack of effort on and off the field, it is hard to tolerate."

India, World Cup finalists last year, failed to win four one-day tournaments since August in Sri Lanka, the Netherlands and England and lost the Test series to Australia 2-1.

Ganguly's men also suffered a six-wicket defeat against Pakistan in Saturday's one-day international in Calcutta which was played to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the Indian cricket board.

Wright said the time had come to prepare for the next World Cup in the West Indies in 2007.

"Our one-day form has been disappointing," he said. "We need to take another look at the balance of the side and consistency of individual performances, just a whole overview of getting back to some of the things we were doing well."

"We also must take some decisions with an eye to the future particularly with people who you need to take forward until 2007. I think we need to have a close look at our one-day cricket."

Wright hoped the team will emulate its performance last season when it drew the Test series in Australia 1-1 and won both the Test and one-day series in Pakistan.

"We have to pick ourselves up and get back to the levels we were playing in Pakistan and Australia," he said.

"We have lost ten per cent and maybe more. I want to get that ten per cent.

"I want us to have this attitude of getting the results we want by showing discipline to achieve our goals. We must have absolute determination and hunger to win."

Wright declined to speak on Ganguly's two-match ban for slow over-rates which could see the captain miss both Tests against South Africa at Kanpur (Nov 20-24) and Calcutta (Nov 28-December 2).

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