Coach Gary Kirsten and skipper MS Dhoni engage in a game of football during India’s practice session at the MA Chidambaram Stadium in Chennai on Friday.
He used to be the first man to enter the ground when the Indian team arrived for practice and the last one to leave.
Probably the best of the lot when the team warmed up with a round of football, Gary Kirsten was a tireless worker at the nets too, helping batsmen with throw downs for hours.
His three-year stint with the Indian team will come to an end after the World Cup final. The former South Africa opener has decided to spend time with his family in Cape Town. A quintessential backstage man, Kirsten hardly hogged the limelight despite the Indian team's enviable run of success under him.
Words of praise
Former skipper Rahul Dravid said the most striking aspect of his approach was to encourage players to be self-reliant, and that he set an example for them to follow.
"He gave the players a lot of personal responsibilities. Within certain boundaries, the onus was on them to be responsible for their performances and preparations.
"There were lots of optional practice sessions, allowing the players to make their own choices about their preparations," Dravid told the Hindustan Times on Friday.
"His own hard work on personal preparations was an example and he will be remembered and missed by all members of the team.
"It's excellent, what he has done as a coach as much as a friend, through his own example of working hard," said Dravid, who has played under New Zealender John Wright, Australian Greg Chappell and Kirsten, the three foreign coaches India have had over the past decade.
Calm and cool
Kirsten's another characteristic was his ability to stay calm, whatever the situation.
"His ability to retain the same face, irrespective of whether the team was winning or losing, was incredible. It's a very difficult thing to do for someone working in the Indian environment."
Dravid said he would personally miss Kirsten. "He was like a friend. With him, I could discuss not just cricket but also life and books.
"He was someone I enjoyed talking to and it could be about anything. Paddy Upton worked closely with him. He is also someone who should get a lot of credit.
"He was well prepared for team meetings and was open to one on ones with players. His throw-downs during the net session were amazing, and he did that depending on the needs of the batsmen.
"No one can possibly throw that many balls."