India can excel in next World Cup: Wright

Published: Monday, April 18, 2005, 23:53 [IST]
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New Delhi:Springing to the defence of the beleagured Indians, outgoing coach John Wright today said the side had all the ingredients required to make an impact in the 2007 World Cup.

India lost the six-match series against Pakistan 2-4 following which captain Rahul Dravid had called for ways to stem the poor run in One-dayers.

Wright, for whom the Kotla One-dayer was the last match as coach, said though the side was in a slump, they had the potential to do well in the mega event in West Indies.

"It's a chance for the selectors to study the reasons for the slump in form. (But) I am still very confident that the team is playing quite well," the 50-year-old New Zealander said.

"I still feel optimistic that India can be turned into a strong force in 2007. The ingredients and the players are there. The side for sure has much scope for more improvement. There is still a long way to go," said Wright who was in charge for close to five years.

India's loss in the series marked a disappointing end to the tenure of Wright, under whose guidance India emerged as a leading force in world cricket.

"Test (matches) wise they are really up there," he said referring to India's fine performance in the last few years.

Dwelling on his tenure as India coach, Wright said it was a "privilege" to coach the team.

Wright declined to reveal his future plans but gave enough indications that he may come out with a book containing memories of his association with the Indian team.

"Probably, I will go back and put a lot of things in perspective. I spent some good time in India. I hope there are other challenges for me in future."

Wright said the end of his tenure did not mean that he would not be following the game in India anymore.

"My son supports India ahead of New Zealand. I will always follow India's performance in future. I was with them for over four years. So naturally, it will be interesting to know what they are doing," he said.

The New Zealander said the Indians had showed improvement in several areas in the last few years including fitness, fielding and running between the wickets.

"I am very much fortunate, I had the backing of the support staff. I also got a lot of support from the players, particularly the senior ones."

Wright heaped praise on the cricket-crazy Indian spectators saying "the passion in India for the game is very special and very valuable. Cricket is their life. They understand the game very well."

On whether he would advice the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) in finding his replacement, Wright replied in the negative. "It's not my work. I hope the best candidate is chosen."

Asked whether he feels the coach should have a say in the selection of players, Wright said "yes I agree. But there should be a balance."

Under Wright India achieved several feats including stopping the 16-Test winning spree of the Australians with a 2-1 home series victory in 2001, reaching the World Cup final in South Africa in 2003 and beating Pakistan in their den last year.

Rahul Dravid, who had backed Wright's candidature five year's back when the Indian cricket was in turmoil, paid rich tributes to the New Zealander.

"It's sad. Now its time to recall some good memories," said Dravid, who played for Kent when Wright was the coach of the English county.

"His professionalism, planning, organisation, discipline, team ethics helped to create a good culture. It helped the team to look beyond itself and achieve greater things. He made a good and significant contribution."

Dravid admitted that whoever replaces the New Zealander in the post, he may take some time to settle down.

"There will be a period of waiting-in. But some of the players are there for a long time. This can help a new coach," the Indian captain said.

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