Wednesday, 19 October 2016
John Wright 'comes home' as new T20 coach
John Wright is a giant of the game. First as a player, one who rightly stakes a claim as one of the best in the club's history. He did it on the international stage too, averaging just under forty in an era when opening batsmen faced genuine fast bowling, whoever the opposition. All of it - well, nearly all of it - with a smile on his face and a genial manner that made him hugely popular with supporters.
It was the same when Wright became New Zealand coach and then the first non-Indian coach of their national side. He had previously enjoyed a county stint in charge at Kent and quickly became established as an outstanding coach at international level.
Of course, having the likes of Tendulkar, Sehwag, Dravid, Ganguly and Laxman in the batting line up never does any harm, but Wright stressed to them all the role that they were expected to play in winning matches. He explained this well - shameless plug time - in an interview for my recent book In Their Own Words: Derbyshire Cricketers in Conversation, which gave an insight into the man and the way that he worked as a player and subsequently as a coach.
That same interview also clearly showed how important Derbyshire was and remains for John. He has made regular trips over here and has remained on very good terms with the club. He is also an unashamed fan of the area, which he loves.
He was in charge of India for five years, in which time they beat Australia at home for the first time, drew a series in that country, won a fiercely competed series against their arch rivals, Pakistan and reached the final of the 2003 World Cup.
At the end of his tenure - and five years is a long time in a role that rarely carries a suggestion of longevity, even with success - Wright became a successful coach in the IPL, leading Mumbai Indians to that title and the Champions League T20 double in 2013.
Since then he has been a talent scout for that side, a role well-explained in this Cricinfo article. It was Wright who spotted the raw, unorthodox but precocious talent of Jasprit Bumrah, as well as that of Hardik Pandya, both of who have gone on to greater things.
That Wright has the coaching credentials is undeniable, but he also brings a huge network of contacts. As was explained recently by Kim Barnett, the T20 coach will recruit his overseas players and work solely on that format.
Might that see another return, this time for Martin Guptill? I won't attempt to second-guess, but John could go in any number of directions and will doubtless know a lot about what he has in the squad already and how that might best be complemented.
For my money, a powerhouse batsman and either a quick bowler or spinner of class would do nicely. If either offer a second string to their bow, so much the better, but we are in very good hands with John Wright.
If you are considering coaches who have made a reputation and a contribution to a dynasty, his work in making India more 'professional' is acknowledged across the world.
That he is now bringing those talents back to the county that gave him his first major opportunity in the game constitutes a pretty major coup by Kim Barnett. If this is the standard we are aiming at this winter, only the most churlish will find something to moan about.
Of course, we all want to know who is coming to play here next summer.
With a man of this stature in charge, it could be absolutely anyone.
Welcome back to Derbyshire, John. It will be a pleasure to see you again.