John Wright didn't often make cricket look like fun.
But during his 15-year career as a New Zealand opening batsman, there was never any question that Wright was trying as hard as he could.
In doing so, he and his similarly motivated contemporaries lifted New Zealand from laughing stock status to credible international force. A bloke can do no more during his time with a team than that.
Wright leaves the stage again now, with yesterday's five-wicket loss to the West Indies at Jamaica's Sabina Park bringing to an end his 21-month tenure as Black Caps head coach.
New Zealand lost eight of their nine clashes with the Windies on this trip - most by a wide margin. Wright will shoulder his share of blame, with critics likely to suggest that the side have not improved under his tutelage.
He probably should, given he's largely walked away from the job of his own volition and with the task not done.
But the real responsibility for the fact that the team still resembles the rabble it was when Wright inherited it lies with the players themselves.
You certainly wonder about how many were able to wander off Sabina Park yesterday morning, look their coach in the eye and tell him they gave him everything they could in this series and the ones that preceded it.
"We came over here with certain expectations and it's disappointing not to deliver on those," offered captain Ross Taylor after the match.
Pressed further, the skipper did express some guilt at the way Wright has gone out.
"Wrighty's been a good servant of New Zealand cricket and it was a bit disappointing to send him off on that note. But a lot of people did learn a lot," he said.
"We might not have put it into performances, but I'm sure over the next little while a lot of what John Wright has done for the team will come through."
The upcoming test and Twenty20 tour of India, which begins with a test in Hyderabad on August 23, would be a good place to start.
The team return home from the Caribbean just long enough to do a bit of washing, shake hands with new coach Mike Hesson and jump back on a plane.
"It's obviously Mike Hesson's first trip away and it's going to be a tough trip for him. But it's a new era in New Zealand cricket and I'm looking forward to obviously starting something with Hess and looking forward to being a lot more consistent than we are currently," Taylor said.
The issue for all concerned is that the Black Caps are actually nothing if not consistent. They don't score enough runs and battle badly against spin, as evidenced in this test when part-timer Narsingh Deonarine ran through them in their second innings of 154.
Sadly, as Taylor noted, India's spinners are a class above Deonarine, and even Sunil Narine, while their pitches will break up far more than the ones at Antigua and Jamaica did.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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