Gary Kirsten has got his share of bouquets for India's World Cup triumph and he deserved every one of them because his contribution was critical.
Batting legend Sunil Gavaskar deserves credit too for setting the ball rolling and thinking about Kirsten as a candidate after another South African Graham FordÂ decided not to take up the job as Team India coach despite being picked in 2007. It is learnt that Gavaskar sent Kirsten an email to check his availability before being invited to meet the coach selection committee.
MiD DAY caught up with Gavaskar while on a break between the World Cup and Indian Premier League to talk about Indian cricket's most successful coach which he helped to pick.
Apart from helping to improve India's win-loss ratio and the World Cup, what according to you, has been Kirsten's biggest contribution to the team?
His biggest contribution was that he not only brought a sense of self-belief, but also calm and trust in the dressing room after the earlier period where players did not know whom to trust.
Why do you think the players have so much time for Kirsten, a complete contrast to what they felt about Greg Chappell?
I guess it was the low-key approach and a sense that he was there to help them develop as cricketers and progress as humans.
How did you come to know about Kirsten's coaching ability and what made you think he would be Mr Right for India?
I had no idea about his coaching skills, but was impressed with his work ethic as a player and the thoughtful manner in which he assessed players when he was part of the International Cricket Council selection committee that picks the annual Test and one-day teams for the ICC awards.
There were a few calls from some players for him to hang around, but Kirsten stuck to his decision to leave. Would you say he left at the apt time?
Yes, he got it right. Better to leave when people are asking you to stay than when people are looking to kick you out.
Would you advocate the appointment of a respected former India player as manager for the WI tour until the BCCI finds a good replacement?
Yes, just like Ravi Shastri and Chandu Borde in their own way brought back normalcy to Indian cricket after the 2007 World Cup, it would be a good idea if a former player is asked to be in charge that is unless the BCCI finds a replacement in the next few weeks.