Kirsten admits to uncertain loyalties before Ind-SA series
Gary Kirsten's first official assignment as India's cricket coach happened to be against the team he was once part of, and the former South African opener admitted that their were moments before the drawn Test series when he was uncertain about his loyalties.
"Whatever I may have said previously, I'd be lying if I said I never had any doubts about my loyalties if the result of the series was delicately balanced," Kirsten was quoted as saying by 'The Beeld' newspaper in Durban.
The Indians managed to draw the series 1-1 after winning the third and final Test in Kanpur inside three days on a turning track.
And Kirsten said despite the pre-series dilemmas, he had become very clear as to which team he wanted to support by the time India wrapped up the series.
"I'm happy to be able to say I wanted India to win the last Test," he said.
Kirsten was a part of the South African team till 2004 before retiring from international cricket. He took over India's coach last month.
Kirsten said coaching an international team like India is tough and he draws inspiration from his late coach Bob Woolmer to deal with the high-pressure job.
"I remember how Bob lived for his job as international coach. Even though the players told him not to get worked up for nothing, he could not calm down," he recalled.
Kirsten said the first time he felt such an anxiety was during last week's Kanpur Test when India, while chasing a mere 62 to win, lost a couple of early wickets.
"The possibility of two or three wickets in quick succession kept going through my mind all the time," he said.
Apart from the on-field pressure, Kirsten said the Indian media's clamour for a quote or two, even on days when he has nothing to say, is also hard to deal with.
"It is almost impossible to move outside the confines of the team's hotel without television and newspapers reporters descending on you," he said.
The former opener has been instructed by the BCCI to speak to the media only during official press conferences and Kirsten said he tries to adhere to the diktat.
"I try to stick to that. With so many TV channels and newspapers, anything one says can be taken out of context," he quipped.