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For John Wright Eden Gardens brings back memories of one of India’s most famous Test wins – against Australia in 2001. As coach of that spirited Indian side, Wright was managing the show in the background much like he was during the Mumbai Indians’ maiden IPL title win on Sunday.
Both wins came after Wright’s team got off to bad starts. And in both instances, Harbhajan Singh weaved his magic to see the team through, rather emphatically in the end. No little wonder then that coach Wright ranks both wins ‘right next’ to each other.
In a brief chat with IPLT20.com, the former India, and current MI, coach spoke about winning an IPL title in his first season in the league.
Here are excerpts from his interview:
On leading MI to their maiden IPL title
It is an amazing feeling. It is unbelievable! It is the big league, and there are tough games in it. I always wanted to come here and experience it as a coach. I am just thrilled for the franchise and everyone involved. I am so thrilled for the boys. They have worked very hard. We have tried to create an environment, so they can go out and express themselves and fight hard. We have played well as a team and have really come together, particularly in our fielding and our bowling. We had to hustle on Sunday night. We had a pretty tough start and we managed to get 148, which was good.
On his approach with MI this season
We have worked hard to be together. We wanted to be aggressive, we tried to be fearless. To get our bowling combinations right, we had to make tough decisions early in the tournament and we went with two overseas bowlers in Malinga and Johnson. They have been magnificent along with our spinners.
A brief overview of MI’s season
Winning all home games was a great achievement. We enjoy playing at home. It is always great to play in front of your home fans. But the challenge is in winning away. We went to Delhi and we got well beaten by CSK. And then we got into the final and we were just looking forward to this match to have another go at them.
On the Eden connection
Eden Gardens has been so wonderful to me. I will never forget 2001 against Australia. This one ranks right next to it!
A few days back, Dinesh Karthiktold this website that Ricky Ponting was the best thing to have happened to Mumbai Indians. One thing that all the MI players vouch for is the positivism that the most successful Australian captain has brought into the camp.
He played no more than six matches in IPL 2013, but Ponting’s involvement with the team was unmistakable every time he stepped on the field during a timeout. And in the end, the three-time World Cup winning captain, along with some stellar names in mentoring – John Wright and Anil Kumble – fulfilled a dream that the Mumbai franchise have harboured for the last six years.
As the glittering IPL Trophy went into the MI dressing room, Ponting took time out to talk to IPLT20.com about his role in the team and how he, along with the team coach and mentor, helped MI become the 2013 IPL champions.
In your first year as the Mumbai Indians leader you have won them the Trophy!
It’s been a great experience for me but I can’t take any credit for what the guys have done on the field. We have played some very good cricket throughout the tournament. Yes, we’ve had our high and low points but that’s what T20 cricket is all about. I along with the coaches just kept reinforcing that belief and the positivism in the guys. We just encouraged them to play with freedom and not have any doubts of second thoughts. To the boys’ credit they’ve been able to do that. Sunday’s performance, particularly with the ball, was the best we’ve had in the tournament.
You know a thing or two about winning trophies, having won three World Cups for Australia. But it must be a unique experience for you to win a tournament like this?
Yes! I said at the start of the tournament that coming into an IPL team and trying to bring all the different cultures together can be difficult because the group doesn’t get together until just before the tournament starts. That’s probably the biggest challenge we faced but I, John (Wright) and Anil (Kumble) made sure that we kept working hard towards keeping the team together. We’ve played the tournament like one team and not individuals. We are all really pleased and proud of what we have done and the boys have a good reason to celebrate.
What do Ricky Ponting and Sachin Tendulkar talk about in their spare time?
Just about cricket! It’s just really great sitting with him on the bench watching the game unfold. We talk about what we might do in this situation and what we would do if we were captain. Because we have both played so much cricket; we have a lot of understanding of the game and we share that with each other. Obviously I would have preferred to be out playing the game but just to be around this group of people and to be able to achieve something that hasn’t been done by the Mumbai Indians before has been very satisfying.
This is probably the first time you have worked with John Wright. What is the best thing about his coaching style?
He keeps things very simple. He relies on the players and the leaders around the team to make sure the players are well prepared. He doesn’t really talk too much; the team meetings are short, sharp and to the-point. That’s where I have been involved as well; making sure that all the planning is how it should be and all our tactics are in place for each game.
You and Anil Kumble are both leaders with very strong personalities. How has it been working with him?
We have worked together – all three of us, Anil, John and myself. We ensured the players are fully prepared when they step on the field. Anil has done a terrific job. The idea behind having the three of us together was to have a strong leadership group around the team. We’re glad that we could get the players to do what they have done. I’m sure we have done our owners proud.