Fresh from attending the Indian Premier League auction in his new role as Mumbai Indians cricket coach, John Wright is put under the hammer by sports editor Jonathan Millmow.
You're the coach but how much input did you have in the auction?
Everyone has a little bit of input and you collectively agree. The owners are responsible for the bidding process. You outline the players you are looking for. In the auction it can lead to all sorts of results if there are two or three franchises chasing the same player. That is why some players you haven't heard of before go for more than [Ricky] Ponting and [Michael] Clarke.
You bought Ponting for US$400,000, why?
"We are looking for some stronger leadership from the overseas players. We'll tighten things up a bit and go from there."
Then there was Glenn Maxwell. You paid US$1 million for him and he isn't proven at the top level yet?
"There was another franchise interested in him. We were keen to get him so that is where it ended really, so we are looking forward to him performing."
What is it like when you are locked in a bidding war as you were for Maxwell?
"Well, it's not my money. I just sit at the table and watch and you hope you get the players you want. Sometimes you don't. There were a couple that we bid for then stopped because you have a ceiling. There is a salary cap."
Why did you sign Jacob Oram, who looks to be struggling?
"Jacob came up at the end of the auction. He has done particularly well in the Sri Lankan and Bangladeshi T20 competitions. He was at a reasonable price and was signed for his experienced bowling on the sub-continent. I've seen him operate in India. Whether he gets a lot of game time remains to be seen. That will depend on (Mitchell) Johnson, (Lasith) Malinga and (Nathan) Coulter-Nile. We thought Jacob was a good buy (US$50,000)."
What is the mood like in the auction room?
"The auction is an extraordinary thing to be part of. The auctioneer is a guy from England who auctions antiques. It is very formal and very structured."
Much has been made of how you got the best out of India because you kept them focused and happy. What will your approach be with Mumbai?
"With myself and Anil Kumble (chief mentor), it won't be any different. There are always a few non-negotiables with me, things like punctuality and the way you practice and prepare. I'm also very big on team being first no matter who and we've got some big names (Sachin Tendulkar, Ponting, Harbhajan Singh). And when we go about our business we look like a team. Wherever I go as coach those things don't change unless they change me and that isn't going to happen. Kumble basically employed me. I report to Anil and we'll work closely together. We've worked together for five years so we are basically on the same wavelength."
What was the background to your new role?
"It had been a possibility for about three weeks but you never know. I flew up and met with Anil and the owners and that went smoothly. Now I've got another coaching opportunity. It will be different. I've had a couple of IPL approaches before but it couldn't work because I was working down here."
You've coached at county level and international level, now this. Even for an old dog, is it exciting?
"I'm excited about it. It could be a very short-term appointment if you don't produce the wins. That was always part of my previous experience in India - being the first foreigner, you knew you couldn't lose too many games then. At my stage of my career there aren't too many other things to do. It will be good."
Does it complete things as far as coaching goes?
"It probably will do because I can't throw balls like I used to. I had a shoulder op six months ago. I buggered it when I was coaching New Zealand. I wouldn't recommend the injury."
The players earn money by the sackful in the IPL. How much does the coach get?
"By any standards it is fair. It is nothing like the players'. Basically it's OK, it's enough, it's all right."
For two years?
"Yes, but I've never worried about length of contracts. If you aren't going well they always tear it up."
You appointed Ross Taylor as New Zealand captain across all formats and you've been silent over his sacking. What have you made of it all?
"I decided not to go on and new people come in with new ideas. The best thing for me is I have something else to think about. I just hope New Zealand wins games of cricket. Sport can be tough sometimes. I've got a lot of time for Ross. It wasn't handled well, everyone knows that, but I've moved on. I wish New Zealand Cricket well and I hope they win matches and it is great to see some youngsters coming through."
Have you severed all ties with New Zealand Cricket and the players?
"I keep in touch with some of the players. A lot of the guys coming through - Doug Bracewell, Trent Boult, BJ Watling, Dean Brownlie and Neil Wagner - are good kids and I hope they (NZC) keep pushing youth. I think we have some good young talent - (Jimmy) Neesham and (Corey) Anderson, too. The young ones will keep the older ones on their toes."
- The Dominion Post
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