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Kirsten lands in town, ready for the challenge

Gary Kirsten arrives in Bangalore to hold his first interaction with the players, ahead of the final Test, reports Rohit Mahajan.

cricket Updated: Dec 08, 2007 02:21 IST
Rohit Mahajan

Gary kirsten, the coach-designate, arrived here in the evening for his first interaction with the men whose fortunes he’ll attempt to shape in his new role.

Kirsten, the former South African opener, will be with the team over the next three days, watching them for the better part of the Test against Pakistan. Kirsten displayed unflappable temperament right after arrival here the media scrum at the Bangalore International Airport failed to faze him and he distributed soundbites with consummate ease.

Kirsten said that he would try to draft in Paddy Upton, a mental-conditioning expert who worked with the South Africans in the 1990s and now is part of Kirsten’s academy, to help the Indians. “The mental side of cricket is very important,” he said. “As for Paddy joining me, it’s not final yet.”

The Upton issue is likely to be discussed during the BCCI’s Working Committee meeting in Mumbai on December 16. Kirsten also said he had no plans in place, for now.

“I’m here only to observe, I just want to watch how they play,” he said of the Indians. “Another reason I came is that I wanted to know the players, understand them. I have played against some of them, but now I will be a part of the set up.”

Kirsten said that he would be with his family during Christmas, and then join the Indians. “After Christmas, I’ll spend a fair amount of time, about 3-4 weeks, with the team in Australia.” He did not reveal what he would advise the team to do in Australia, merely saying: “That is going to be within the dressing room! We will let the results speak.”

Kirsten also chose his words carefully about India. “It is an honour to be a part of the Indian culture, especially with the cricketing perspective,” he said, and added that he foresaw lots of pressure on him during his stint.

“Judging by the welcome I’ve received, I know there is going to be a lot of pressure on me, but pressure is a part and parcel of international sport. I am prepared to face it,” he said. How he handles it, and what sort of bond he forms with the team, the country and the media will determine the fortunes of the man, and perhaps of the team.