‘I knew he wasn’t operating his best version’: India World Cup-winning coach Gary Kirsten on first meeting with Virat Kohli
Gary Kirsten, who led India to 2011 World Cup title win as coach, recalled the discussions he had with a young Virat Kohli.Updated: Jul 14, 2020 12:31 IST
There are only a few names at par or bigger than Virat Kohli in the modern day-cricket. The current India captain is already a legend in the making. Kohli has broken several records in his young career so far, and many believe he could be the one to surpass Sachin Tendulkar’s 100 international centuries feat. Kohli has 43 ODI hundreds and 27 Test tons so far in his career. Kohli is also the leading run-scorer in T20Is at the moment, and has already surpassed 11,000 runs in ODIs. But former India coach Gary Kirsten remembers that when he first saw Kohli, he was not the finished product.
“Our relationship was formulated around him as a young player coming in, and me trying to say to him that he has a long way to go and to build in some consistent behaviors into the way he played this game,” Kirsten said on The RK show on Youtube.
Kirsten, who led India to 2011 World Cup title win as coach further recalled the discussions he had with a young Kohli. “When I met Virat first up, he had great abilities and talent and he was a young guy. But I kind of knew straight away that he wasn’t operating in the best version of himself. So we had a number of discussions,” he said.
“I’ll never forget one when we were playing an ODI series against Sri Lanka, and he was batting beautifully and he was on 30-odd not out. He then decided that he would try and hit the (bowler) over long-on’s head for six. And he got holed out.
“I just said to him, ‘If you’re going to take your cricket to the next level, you need to hit that ball down the ground for one. You know you can hit a lot of balls up the ground, but there’s a lot of risk attached to that.’ I think he took that on board, he got a hundred in the next one-day in Kolkata,” Kirsten further recalled.
The advice from Kirsten has clearly worked as Kohli has developed a unique ability to switch himself at will while playing in different formats. He clearly knows the role he needs to play - when he needs to go on the offensive and when he needs to defend. This is why Kohli has been able to create a niche for himself across all formats over the years, and it seems Kirsten is the man who should be credited for Kohli’s success.