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Gary strikes right note with players

cricket Updated: Apr 14, 2008 00:58 IST
Anand Vasu
Anand Vasu
Hindustan Times
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When Gary Kirsten was still playing cricket he was always the first to order Cuban cigars and a round of drinks when his team won. It may not be possible to get Cuban cigars in Kanpur but Kirsten will certainly be relieved that his first series as India coach did not end in defeat. Kirsten might be completely forgotten in the euphoria of this win, but you can be sure that it wouldn't have been the case had the result gone the other way and India lost the series 2-0.

With the BCCI having gagged Kirsten, and Paddy Upton, who looks after the mental side of things, it's difficult to get any credible information on exactly what the two have been up to since they took over. One way, though, is to ask the players .

“He's hitting the right areas, motivating the boys,” Mahendra Singh Dhoni said of Kirsten. “As an international coach you can't change too many things about players, especially technique, and the way they bat or bowl. What's needed is motivation and taking care of the mental aspect."

The mental aspect would have been the toughest challenge after the Ahmedabad debacle. How the team kept it's morale up, especially given the angry reactions from the fans is anyone's guess. But Dhoni maintained the team kept its cool. “It's important to be calm and composed. The atmosphere was perfect for people to perform.”

Kirsten's website — which he plans to use to disseminate information was launched without any fanfare, in the course of the final Test. “I'm always scared of the word ‘coach’ in the new professional era of sport," says Kirsten in the first video on his website. "What does a coach do, really? I like the word manager or something like that. You're managing people, leading an organisation to a degree and certainly in an international set up, the work is largely around making sure the environment is set up for success." If you think those words bear an eerie consonance to what Dhoni said, hang on. When asked what he could do to help cricketers of the calibre of Tendulkar, Kirsten said, "There's not much you can do when a guy has scored 39 Test hundreds and you come in as his new coach.

If you start telling him how to play the cover drive, you're moving towards dangerous territory."

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