Gary Kirsten, one of the best coaches in world cricket, has achieved great things. Kirsten left his mark on history by guiding the Indian team to the ODI World Cup victory in 2011. But when he became the coach of the Indian squad in 2008, things were far from perfect. Even though Team India under MS Dhoni had already won the 2007 ICC World T20 championship, a legend like Sachin Tendulkar wasn’t feeling well. From that point on, Kirsten’s job of motivating the males was difficult.
Kirsten discussed the difficulties he encountered when he joined the Indian team in a video that was posted on The Final Word Cricket. Getting Tendulkar back on track was one of South Africa’s biggest challenges. “The standout for me then was what kind of leadership was then required to take this very talented team and turn it into a world-beating team. That was the conundrum for any coach moving into that situation. When I took over there was definitely a lot of scarring on the team. There was a lot of unhappiness and hence for me, it was more important to understand each individual and where they felt they fit in the team and what was going to make them play cricket for sheer joy,” Kirsten said in the video.
Kirsten admitted that Tendulkar was ‘deeply unhappy’ when he joined the team as he wasn’t enjoying cricket the way he used to. “Sachin was probably a stand out for me because he was deeply unhappy at the time that I joined the team. He felt he had a lot to offer, but he wasn’t enjoying his cricket and he was at a time in his career when he felt maybe he should retire. It was important for me to connect with him and make him feel that he had a massive contribution to make to the team and his contribution was more than what he needed to do.”
The former South Africa batter also opened up on his chemistry with the then-skipper MS Dhoni as the two worked together to take the Indian team to new heights. “Any coach would want a group of players playing for the name on the front of the shorts and not the name on the back of the shirt. India is a tough place with such hype around individual superstars and you often get lost in what your own personal needs are. And Dhoni meanwhile stand out as a leader as he was so focused on the team doing well that he wanted to win trophies and have great success with the team and he was very public about that. And that pulled a lot of other guys into line and quite simply Sachin started enjoying cricket as well. He just played for the love of it he felt that he could make a contribution to the greater cause.” he explained.