When John Wright was coach of the Indian cricket team he'd often stare in wonderment at the batting quality he had at his disposal.
Sachin Tendulkar was already in his prime, ditto Rahul Dravid, Sourav Ganguly and VVS Laxman -- the foundation of the Indian side that secured a highlight of Wright's 4-1/2 year reign, the home series victory over Australia in 2001.
Those big names are now in Napier -- apart from Ganguly who retired last year -- but Wright's role has obviously changed as a New Zealand Cricket selector.
He still looks on his former personnel with a degree of professional envy -- and urges New Zealand's inexperienced batting unit to also take careful note of how they go about their business at the crease.
India's batting core is a major reason the tourists cruised to a 10-wicket victory in Hamilton last weekend. They are expected to maintain their dominance when the second test starts at McLean Park tomorrow.
Wright has been busy tutoring New Zealand's left handed batsmen at training this week but the former test opener admitted his modern-day equivalent Tim McIntosh could also absorb valuable lessons while in the field.
"You learn as much of players as you do coaches even if they're opposition players," he said.
"Cricket's like any sport, you study it, you look for what other blokes do.
"Every one's a bit different but there's always fundamentals."
Tendulkar may be a diminutive right hander that bears little physical resemblance to any of New Zealand's top order but his batting philosophies have stood the test of time -- 157 tests and 12,589 test runs since his debut as a teenager in 1989.
"There's elements of his game, particularly his balance, the way he sets himself," said Wright, naming one Tendulkar quality worth emulating.
"Balance is everything in batting. You have to pick the line and judge the length (of the ball) but your balance is very important.
"You want to go up and down the wicket, not across it. He's good at that."
India head into a match that could see them wrap up their first test series win on New Zealand soil with 510 caps spread among their top six. McIntosh, Martin Guptill, Daniel Flynn, Ross Taylor, Jesse Ryder and James Franklin share just 58 -- the contrast is that stark.
Wright said the rookies should also have noticed how to pace an innings by watching Tendulkar and Dravid at Seddon Park.
"They understand what stage the game is at and if someone's bowling well you have to get through it, all those sorts of things," Wright said.
While India's top and middle order experience cannot be challenged in this series, Wright felt New Zealand's new generation of strokemakers were headed in the right direction.
Ryder's maiden test ton at Seddon Park was a case in point -- and displayed Tendulkar-like attributes.
Guptill also made a promising debut while Flynn made a decent fist of the first drop role in New Zealand's second innings.
"As long as the players are working hard, you have to show a bit of patience," he said, suggesting the current players will be persevered with.
Flynn, however, may be missing from New Zealand's line-up as he battles with a bruised and swollen left hand.
Scans cleared him of a fracture but Flynn was unable to bat in the nets yesterday and but will need to today to prove his fitness.
Former opener Jamie How was brought in as cover last night and will play if Flynn is not deemed capable of batting -- or fielding.
The other selection issue revolves around the make-up of the bowling unit. An appraisal of the wicket will determine whether offspinner Jeetan Patel is included at the expense of a fast bowler, probably Kyle Mills.