If John Wright’s impact as a coach at Derbyshire comes close to his influence as a player, then the county’s record in Twenty20 cricket could be about to take a sharp upward turn.
The New Zealander was one of Derbyshire’s finest servants, his 27 first-class hundreds the most by any overseas player to represent the club, and his coaching CV is equally impressive.
He won the Indian Premier League with the Mombai Indians and is regarded as one of the top coaches in the shortest forms of the game.
Hardly surprising then that director of cricket Kim Barnett turned to Wright in a bid to transform Derbyshire’s fortunes in this summer’s NatWest T20 Blast.
As the county has only once reached the quarter-final stages and has never appeared at a finals day, it is safe to say there is room for improvement.
“We have to improve and if we don’t you’ll be talking to another coach next year,” said Wright. “I’ve looked at the figures and I see we concede a lot of runs per over and we don’t score that many runs per over so if you can’t change those numbers you’re not going to win lots of games of T20.
“T20 is a game where you can look at numbers and they are pretty accurate; you look at strike-rate and runs per over and you’ve got to be able to take wickets otherwise the game goes away from you.
“I always thought there’s an opportunity to improve and it’s a great challenge. I’m not at the start of my coaching career, I’m sailing off into the sunset and this might be my last crack but we’re going to have a real go at it and I’m looking forward to it.”
Consistency and an inability at times to get over the line has hampered the Falcons in recent seasons and Wright recognises the importance of taking opportunities.
“Particularly in T20, you can’t be too prescriptive, there’s aggression, being positive, all those sorts of things and there’s not a lot of time for second guessing,” he said.
“What I will be encouraging the boys to do is when you get into a situation where you have an opportunity to win, you’ve got to look at it in the right way and not to be too fussed about the what-ifs.”
Derbyshire play their first game at Northampton on Friday before taking on Yorkshire in front of a sell-out 4,500 crowd at Queen’s Park, Chesterfield on Saturday.
“It would be great to start well because then you can get some momentum and winning can be a habit,” Wright said.
“There are situations where teams haven’t experienced winning enough and you can see the doubt creeping in and I suppose that’s a great challenge for all of us.
“Hopefully if we can learn how to do that and repeat it we will do better this year.”
And added: “I’m new and sometimes that can be an advantage. I think we have a great bunch of guys who want to do well and I think if we can just get some wins together, everything else will take of itself.”
Having the world’s number one rated one-day bowler in Imran Tahir and the New Zealander Matt Henry should improve Derbyshire’s chances and if they are successful, then Wright may even compose a victory song.
An accomplished guitarist, he recorded an album Red Skies last year although he doesn’t anticipate a Grammy nomination anytime soon.
He said: “It’s just a hobby really and watching racehorses got too expensive! I don’t anticipate a lot from it, I might be able to buy an ice-cream at the end of it.”