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ICC Champions Trophy
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September 21, 2002
1515 IST

Pool A:
Aus | Ban | NZ

Pool B:
Ind | Eng | Zim

Pool C:
Ken | SA | WI

Pool D:
Ned | Pak | SL

The Cricket Interview/John Wright

'We need to bowl better'

John Wright

When Kapil Dev resigned as India's coach the Indian Cricket Board decided to look overseas for his replacement.

Australians Greg Chappell and Geoff Marsh were interviewed, but it was New Zealander John Wright who was eventually handed the task of galvanising India's gifted but inconsistent national side.

Assistant Editor Faisal Shariff spoke to Wright in Colombo about India's chances in the ICC Champions Trophy.

What are India's chances in the tournament?

It is a big game against England [on Sunday] and we have to win. Though we beat them at Lord's, they scored 325 against us -- so we need to have a better bowling performance. We are looking forward to the game. Obviously we have gained some confidence, but we respect them as opponents. If we play well we will be hard to beat.

Mohammad Kaif has been a revelation; in a sense we seem to have found our own Michael Bevan. Your thoughts on his batting.

I always liked him as a player because of his temperament. He was 12th man in the first Test I was in charge of the team against Zimbabwe in Nagpur, and he looked a tough kid.

He played pretty well in Sri Lanka when we toured here last year. He didn't get many runs but he batted well at crucial times and that has shown. He has batted well in pressure zones and that is a very good sign. It is all very good to have talent, but he has done it time and again for India.

Batting at number seven, he has probably the most difficult job in the team but he has won games for us. I am happy that we have unearthed a player who can win games under pressure situations for us. That stands good for both forms of the games.

In his hundred against Zimbabwe, Kaif had 55 singles and 38 dot balls. You have always maintained that having fewer dot balls and more singles is the mantra to succeed in one-day cricket. Is that something you try to inculcate in every batsman in the side?

You try and emphasize how important it is. Some players take some convincing for a theory, some just follow.

The reason why he is a good one-day player is that he is the best getter of the single in the whole team. And that is the reason he will be a great one-day player, because he gets singles off reasonably good balls. That is why Michael Bevan is a good player and Javed Miandad was a good player. They realized the importance of the single. That is the reason Sachin Tendulkar played well in England -- he got a lot of singles. When the big shots aren't coming or a bowler is difficult to get away you score the single, that is the key thing.

Against that, Virendra Sehwag seems to be scoring only boundaries.

That is one area Sehwag needs to develop. He needs to get hundreds -- he has just one one-day hundred. He has enormous talent, but no matter how well you play you have to get the single.

Do you reckon there is a need to promote Kaif up the batting order?

He could bat anywhere, but seven is a very difficult position and he has won us games from there. Obviously he has to get runs for us at all times, and he will be promoted up the order at some stage -- but then we need to find someone who can score runs at number seven and we don't have anyone.

It might be a good thought to have a bowling all rounder at number seven, because our fifth bowler against Zimbabwe, between those who shared that spot, went for 80 odd runs. We need to rethink that. We cannot think of winning the World Cup with that sort of loophole. A batsman who bowls will be right for number seven, but for the moment it is Kaif.

The cricket academies in England and Australia seem to be doing very well in throwing up players for the national side. How well is the Indian academy in Bangalore doing?

I haven't been in India for a long time. The Under-19 team did very well in England, that is where you look for your next crop and obviously [A T] Rayudu played brilliantly. His innings of 177 to win the last game was exceptional.

I think we need to put an emphasis on developing quick bowlers, because that is what we need to better our resource.

'My Job Is to Win Games For India:' Mohammad Kaif
'All it takes is one delivery to turn things around:' Glen McGrath
'My time to captain Zimbabwe has passed:' Andy Flower
'It's just not in the ICC's interest to undermine India:' Speed
'Batting is very important for me:' Shane Warne
'It's the worst injury I've had in my life:' Brian Lara
'I will be happy with 600 wickets:' Muthiah Muralitharan

Camp John

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