Gary Kirsten, who has previously mentored the star-studded Indian cricket team and IPL franchise Delhi Daredevils for two seasons, is currently working with Virat Kohli led Royal Challengers Bangalore side as a batting coach.
Kirsten was instrumental in shaping up the Indian cricket team following the chaotic exit of Greg Chappell. After officially stepping in as Indian team's chief coach in early 2008, Kirsten enjoyed a reasonably fruitful stint which eventually ended with Dhoni’s troops reaching the pinnacle in ICC Test ranking besides being the worthy winner of 2011 World Cup. It was his visionary eyes that scouted exceptional talents like Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma.
During his coaching tenure with Team India, Kirsten had seen the evolvement of Kohli from very close quarters and he is not at all surprised by the accomplishment of current India and RCB skipper.
“It is great to be working with Virat again because he started when I was the coach. We had a lot of conversations early in his career about how he needs to set up his game. We knew he was going to be a great player, it was just a question of when and how he needed to play to be able to achieve the consistency in his game. A lot of those conversations have in many ways given him some of the thinking around how he needs to build his game. That has been fun. To come back and start working with him again to see how he is going, we are just kind of building that relationship again. I am really enjoying it,” Kirsten said in an exclusive interview with TOI.
The 50-year-old Proteas coach further went on to say that Virat was destined for greatness given his hunger to be the best in the business.
“Any guy with half a cricket eye would have known that he was going to be a great player. His hunger for runs, his ball-striking ability - we are talking 2008 - he hit the ball to all parts of the ground, got natural power and then the determination to go with it. He had the hunger to be great. It was all there. That's one of the easier recruitments you could make,” he added.
Following the end of his coaching stint with India, Kirsten proceeded to take over a similar role with the South African team until August 2013. The 101 Tests veteran was also a key figure in guiding and marshalling young Proteas players such as David Miller and Quinton de Kock.
Unwilling to take on further international commitments, Kirsten then moved to franchise-based T20 cricket as he signed a three-year deal with Delhi Daredevils in 2014. However, the team's underwhelming campaigns in his first two years resulted in the management parting ways with him at the end of 2015. At the start of the year, the former South Africa opener signed a two-year contract with Hobart Hurricanes in Australia's Big Bash League (BBL).
When asked about his decision to join RCB, Gary said: “It's early days. I think every franchise develops and they progress into doing things slightly differently. I think T20 cricket is moving that way. It's becoming scientific now. There is a lot of interest in understanding the value of players and I have certainly taken a lot of learning from being involved internationally for five years and now the last three or four years being involved domestically in understanding recruitment which I think is becoming important.”
Elaborating the difference between coaching a franchise and a national side, Kirsten asserted: “It is different because with a franchise team, your stakeholders are regional. You have the owner who shows a particular interest in the success of the team. The focus and the attention is narrow. Whereas with an international team, the stakeholders are the entire country. It is a much bigger journey and a lot more people are involved in the success of the team.”
He concluded by talking about the ball-tampering scandal that shook the entire cricket fraternity last month.
“There is no place for ball-tampering. Reverse swing is very entertaining to watch. I am a cricket lover and I enjoy watching the ball reverse swing. Didn't enjoy facing it as a player, though! The question is, how do you introduce it in a way that is legal?” Gary Kirsten signed-off.