When Gary Kirsten took charge, cricket-crazy India was asking a number of questions, and whether the former South Africa opener with little coaching experience could revive a team of stars that had sunk low after the first round exit in the 2007 World Cup and was nursing the scars of the Greg Chappell era.
The soft-spoken Kirsten won over his doubters and helped the team savour some of the finest moments leading up to the World Cup glory. In a farewell press conference on Tuesday, he spoke about his experience and also laid the marker for his successor, on how to take the talented and buoyant group forward.
“I guess it helped that I didn’t know what I was getting into. I got behind the scenes where the coach belongs and worked really hard. I used the reference of being a player to work with the team. I tried to build trust and me and Paddy (Upton) tried to make sure they knew that we had come to India to make it the best team in the world and not for any personal glory. “In coaching an international team, working on the technical aspects is just 10%. The man management skills are more important.”
Though Kirsten declined to discuss the areas the team needs to improve, he did emphasise the need to find a couple of quality seamers who can play for a longer time.
"Munaf (Patel) bowled very well in the World Cup and Ashish (Nehra) has been consistent over the last few years. But we need support for Zaheer who has to carry a lot of workload,” said Kirsten.
“Seam bowling has always been a concern. If we can find 3-4 bowlers who can take the rigours of international cricket and give their best it will be fantastic. Some bowlers have showed promise, but there is no one on the radar right now.”
No future plan
Kirsten said he had a couple of coaching offers from Indian Premier League teams for this season after he announced he would quit the India job.
“I turned all of them down since I wanted to spend some time with my family. I will certainly have to decide what I will do in the future but as of now there is nothing on the table.”