Gary Kirsten, India’s coach-in-waiting, shared his vision for the team with Test captain Anil Kumble, BCCI secretary Niranjan Shah, chief administrative officer Prof Ratnakar Shetty, treasurer N Srinivasan and director of cricket operations Suru Nayak at the Cricket Club of India on Tuesday.
He also shared a meal with them, except Srinivasan, who left early.
After the final round of meetings, Kirsten had a free-flowing interaction with the media.
Kirsten on India’s team composition
Under MS Dhoni they look an enthusiastic and energetic unit. At Test level, you need your experience more. I would like to see a smooth transition of players going to Test level in time. I tried to do as many one-on-ones with every player to know them better during my three weeks stay in Australia. It’s a good-looking team with a bright future.
I was encouraged by their ability to fight till the end. To put in an effort even when the chips are down was good to see.
On whether it was good to see India giving it back to the Australians when it came to sledging:
What I like about Indian cricket as a whole now, especially about the young players, is that they are ready to accept the battle. They are ready to confront. In the past maybe they tended to back off. That’s healthy for the game. I am excited by some of these younger players coming through with a belief that ‘I am ready for the international stage, and I am ready to compete with the best of players’.
On the senior, junior divide:
It didn’t seem there that there was any problem. But I do see that the team at some stage will have to go through a transition period. There are some very senior players who are towards the end of their career. And that’s something that we have to manage very carefully with myself being involved and some of the other people, including the players themselves. I would like to see a smooth transition. In 18 months, we could have two new players in the Test side that have come through the succession basis. So there’s gonna be a lot of planning on that front and a lot of discussions with senior players when their time is up. For the senior players, they would have certainly left their legacy behind. So my motivation is to make an Indian team that’s competitive, consistent and can compete for the No 1 ranking.
Is the transition being managed properly now?
At the moment we are seeing some exciting talent coming through in the One-day set-up. That’s a tough question because at the end of the day it’s all about when you bring in a young player at the right time. Let’s not forget that experience is very important in the make-up of any team but so is youthfulness and enthusiasm and energy. So it’s always a challenge to manage a smooth transition. But hopefully during the time that I am involved with the team we will be able to manage that as effectively as we could. I think we are going to irritate some people along the way but that’s part and parcel of the job.
On the two captains’ theory
You guys are asking tough questions now! I think they are two very exciting cricketers. Kumble has proved his worth. MSD is doing exactly the same. He has won a major trophy already. He’s the captain for the future. Maybe in the future he will be the captain for both the teams. But right now is not probably the correct time for him.
On getting the best out of Sourav Ganguly and Rahul Dravid
I think they’ve got enough pride for performing. For me the important thing is that they make a good contribution to the team in all facets of the game and they will do that. I don’t have any problems with them.
On the impact of IPL
It is having a big impact on world cricket already. What I would like to still see is Test cricket being the No. 1 priority. India have 15 Test matches in the next one year by the look of the schedule. And certainly there seems to be similar thinking that we have to be right up there in that form. But certainly the new format is generating huge amount of interest.
On his priorities ahead of the first series
We need to sort out who is going to be involved in the management and the support staff. The team very much picks itself. There are one or two positions of which we are unsure of at the moment. I think everyone’s excited about the young fast bowlers coming through. Ishant Sharma has been a revelation over the last two months.
On the surprises so far
They told me you’re gonna have lots of people taking pictures of you and there are gonna be lots of cameras and lots of microphones and I am beginning to experience it now. But it’s a tremendous honour to have been offered this position and I am looking forward to the prospects of working with the team and enjoying the passion that people in India possess for the game.