Christchurch:The Indian team was about to wind up a four-hour training-cum-net session at the Lincoln University campus when a tall, confident figure sauntered into the practice area.
Former India coach John Wright barely made his presence aware, he was greeted with warmth and affection by the team management and the cricketers. Their reverence for the man, who had begun the process of building a potent, match-winning Indian unit, was evident.
Yet, Wright wasn't willing to take the credit for Indian cricket's profitable turn around and praised current coach Gary Kirsten.
"There is a lot of potential in this side. I am happy they are doing very well. You have good men in Kirsten and Paddy (Upton). And they are playing under a good captain as well," said Wright.
Indian cricket was at the crossroads when Wright moved from Kent to take over the reins of a team. He laid emphasis on work ethics, which hitherto had been conspicuous in the Indian mindset.
Soon, results began to blossom, the two-wicket victory at Bulwayo against Zimbabwe (2001) marking India breaking their haunted jinx on foreign soil.
On Sunday, when the team is being led by Mahendra Singh Dhoni and coached by Kirsten, with the likes of Yuvraj Singh, Gautam Gambhir and Zaheer Khan are on top, it should not be forgotten that the foundation for this success had been laid by the ex-Kiwi opener, who is keen to return to India in the capacity of a coach.
"I would love to be associated with Indian cricket. I miss the place, curry and traffic. It is an exotic place, unlike the cold weather here," said Wright.
"I called the boys in the dressing room after they had defeated Australia in the Test series. It was a great show indeed. I also spoke to Sourav (Ganguly) and (Anil) Kumble as they were retiring," said Wright, inviting the Indian media for a barbecue at his home in the City of Churches.
After exchanging pleasantries with Team India's bowling coach Venkatesh Prasad, Virender Sehwag, Kirsten and Upton, he was involved in a long discussion with Sachin Tendulkar, whom he regards as one of the greatest batsman in world cricket.
"It was nice to catch up with him. I had last seen him during the World Cup in the Caribbean. He is lovely bloke," Wright said.
He also showered praise on Dhoni for leading the side from the front and said: "He seems to be a sound captain and has done a good job so far. He has a hugely talented bunch of players who have the potential to win everything big."
Wright is currently contracted as Director of the High Performance Centre created by New Zealand Cricket.