Lots of issues to be discussed: Gary Kirsten
MUMBAI : Since the news of his Monday night interview with the BCCI became official, former South Africa opener Gary Kirsten has been inundated with calls from the media. “I have had plenty of calls. I have tried to answer quite a few,” joked Kirsten as he took time off for an interview with TOI . Excerpts:
How did this interview happen?
About two weeks ago, I got a call from a member of the BCCI asking me if I was interested.
What was your first reaction?
I was pleasantly surprised when I got the call. But I considered it as a huge honour because right from my playing days I believed that I had a lot to offer. That (BCCI) call just gave me a sense of confidence that they had belief in my credentials.
Was coaching a national side always on your mind?
I run my own coaching academy in South Africa and have been with Cricket South Africa (CSA) as a high performance manager. So coaching a national side was always something I wanted to do down the line.
Have you finalised any agreement with the BCCI? Is it likely that you could join the side in Australia only mid-way through the tour?
We have a lot of issues to discuss and both sides will get back in a week’s time. I have to sort out a number of longstanding commitments and the date of my joining is something that is yet to be decided. I have two young kids, so have a lot to decide.
Did you get a chance to speak to skipper Anil Kumble?
Anil and I did have a chat. We have played a lot against each other. So it was an easy discussion around the team and current scenarios. There was nothing specific about it.
Have you been keeping a track of the Indian team’s performances in recent times?
I have been watching them. They have got a very experienced side and was very impressed with what they have done. I was particularly impressed with the Twenty20 performance where young players showed they could handle the pressure at the highest level.
What has struck you most about the Indian team?
I think it has a fantastic structure with a number of senior players at the core of the team. They have done well without a coach and it is now for me to add some value and continue the good work.
Did you do any sort of research before you came to India? Or was it all about your own experience?
Most of what I know about India is drawn from my experience as a player. I am aware of Indian cricket, its culture and the way people follow it passionately over here. I have been fortunate that I have toured India four times. So I have a fairly good understanding of the country. If I do take up the offer, I will continue to research and learn.
Would it have been easier, if you had taken over ‘at home’ rather than in Australia?
Again I must reiterate that there has been no final decision on my appointment. But we all know Australia will be a tough tour. They (Australia) have a great cricket side. In fact, it will be a clash of two great sides. It will be a tremendous challenge to add some value. If the side performs well and that is what you will be measured against.
What will your basic role with the Indian team?
Well, it is really to optimise the performance scale and put it on the upward curve. If I am able to do that atleast for 70 to 80 per cent then it will be very good. The good thing is India have a lot of Test cricket coming up and going on to win those series will be my objective. Getting up everyday and working on all the different aspects will be my job.
What is your best moment of playing in India?
There are many, but one that I remember most is the double hundred in the 1996 Kolkata Test. That was one of the highlight of my career. Playing at Eden Gardens was a tremendous experience. Everyone must get an opportunity to play there.