x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Big task ahead of Gary Kirsten

If the former India coach can get the South African team to winning ways, he will be cricket's "Special One".

Pep Guardiola is not known as being much of a cricket fan. However, the Barcelona manager might like to look in on the sport in the future, to see how to go about advancing a career when you have already achieved everything there is to do first time around.

Gary Kirsten has only held one serious cricket coaching position, yet already - aged 43 - he will be wondering what else he has to prove. He has been there, done that, got the limited edition, sky blue, World Cup winners' commemorative T-shirt, thanks to his three-year stint with India.

He also took them to the top of the Test rankings, before effectively saying: "My work here is done, I'm off home now."

When he is unveiled as the South Africa coach today, Kirsten will still have plenty of motivation, however.

As Guardiola could surely testify, it matters far more when you are winning trophies for your own people.

The India job is one of the most highly pressured in coaching, yet now it will seem like it was a stepping stone for something more important for Kirsten. "I would love to coach South Africa. It's my people," the former opening batsman was quoted as saying in the South African press.

His experiences in India will be valuable in his new role. Much like in the subcontinent, there is far more to the game in South Africa than the issues on the field. In his previous post, Kirsten proved adept at steering clear of politics.

He has turned into champions a team with a name for being temperamental finishers under pressure. If he can do the same with his home nation, he really will be cricket's "Special One".

 

pradley@thenational.ae