Welcome Gary Kirsten! Pakistan Team and Fans Welcome You

Sat May 25 2024
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Shahid Akhtar Hashmi

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We wish you the man who can guide Team Green to overcome some of the problems in the coming two years. The former South African opener joined the team in Leeds for the four-match T20I series against England and right from the get-go took guard and started planning for the World Cup. Kirsten will open the gate for communication, listening to the players, backing them to the hilt but finally taking strong actions that could justify his status as a coach who is globally sought after and respected.

Kirsten had two successful stints as head coach. He first guided India to the World Cup title in 2011 through immaculate planning and man management which is the most requisite element in coaching. He had to deal with the giants like Sachin Tendulkar, Gautum Gambhir, Virendar Sehwag, Yuvraj Singh and not last but the least a man of his own whims Mahendra Singh Dhoni. But with his judicious approach and acerbic approach took the horse by his reins. The best part about his coaching was that his actions spoke louder than his words. He would take the back stage and give players the center stage to rule.

The best thing about Kirsten will be his temperament. He acknowledged he has become thick-skinned after learning from Bob Woolmer under whom Kirsten developed into a fine batter for South Africa. Before Woolmer took over as Pakistan coach in 2004 he had lifted the South African team with acumen and a steady approach.

Pakistan had pursued Kirsten in the past as well but at that time he apologized by saying that his family was young and he could not stay away from it. But after nearly a decade he finally bowed to the demands. As a coach of immense knowledge, Kirsten had known Pakistani players for a long time. He was in rival camp when Pakistan bowed to eventual champions India in the semi-final of the 2011 World Cup.

“For cricket enthusiasts globally, Pakistan players are a familiar sight, showcasing their skills across various platforms. It’s truly a joy to watch them play the game. Understanding the current state of the team and charting a path towards our desired goals is paramount. Winning ICC Events, while challenging, remains a significant objective. Whether it’s the upcoming tournament in June or events in the future, achieving success in these competitions would be a remarkable feat.”

With his experience of the sub-continent, he also knows the forceful reaction of the fans when chips are down and results not coming. The outside noise will not bother him. He will surely be targeting consistency for the Pakistan team and had vowed to do so. “My perspective on Pakistan cricket has remained consistent over time. There’s always an inherent expectation for the team to perform at a high level consistently. However, in team sports, maintaining peak performance is not always guaranteed. As a coach, it’s immensely gratifying to assist players in unlocking their full potential. I eagerly anticipate collaborating with the individual players and the team, facilitating their growth and development.”

A foreign coach is not new to Pakistan. In the late 1990s, Richard Pybus became Pakistan’s first foreign coach. Pybus was not a popular player in his playing days in South Africa and England and just managed a single List A game with no experience in first-class cricket. But Pybus had made progress as a coach and helped Pakistan in his early stints.

When Javed Miandad was sacked after Pakistan’s home defeats against India, former England batter and ex-South African coach Bob Woolmer took over and used his wide experience to guide Pakistan to notable development. Sadly, Woolmer’s health deteriorated and he died during the 2007 World Cup. In came Geoff Lawson, a surprising choice given he had little prior experience as a coach. Pakistan was well served as they finished runners-up in the inaugural Twenty20 World Cup in 2007. But Lawson was shown the door over the Asia Cup debacle at home.

Another Australian Dav Whatmore also came with the reputation of an astute and successful coach, having guided Sri Lanka to the World Cup title in 1996. Mickey Arthur had two stints, first as coach and then as team director while Grant Bradburn served as head coach for a brief period.

So Kirsten knows the toughness of the job. As a master of the game, he must have been aware of what to do and what not to do to survive in the sub-continent. The announcement of Pakistan’s World Cup squad — with Kirsten giving his input as one of the selectors — proved he wants consistency in selection as well. There are two Twenty20 World Cups and a Champions trophy that will come under his tenure. In his own words if Pakistan wins one out of three then it will be a success.

That is admirably right kind of calculation and the old age approach: promise less, but deliver more. Welcome Gary!


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