Gary Kirsten is among the best coaches team India has ever had, he led the team to the top of the ICC Test rankings in 2009 and then two years later under his coaching the Men In Blue won an important laurel- the ICC 50-over World Cup title.
The former Proteas cricketer replaced the controversial Greg Chappell as the coach in 2007. After taking on the position he was easily able to strike balance between legendary players like Sachin Tendulkar and the newcomers like Virat Kohli.
Speaking about the current skipper of the India team, Gary admitted that he saw the great abilities and talent Virat Kohli possessed. Kirsten further added that he knew that the then young lad wasn’t operating in the best version of himself.
Kirsten recalled and ODI series against Sri Lanka, where Kohli after a good start, gave away his wicket by going for a big one. Kirsten said that at that time he advised the right-hand batsman to cut the risk out of his game if he was to take his game to the next level.
In a conversation on The RK Show, Gary said, “When I met Virat first up, he had great abilities and talent and he was a young guy. But I kind of knew straight away that he wasn’t operating in the best version of himself. So, we had a number of discussions.”
Kirsten recalled, “I’ll never forget one, when we were playing an ODI series against Sri Lanka, and he was batting beautifully and he was on 30-odd not out. He then decided that he would try and hit the (bowler) over long-on’s head for six. And he got holed out.”
The former South Africa cricketer further mentioned, “I just said to him, ‘If you’re going to take your cricket to the next level, you need to hit that ball down the ground for one to long-on. You know you can hit a lot of balls up the ground, but there’s a lot of risk attached to that’. I think he took that on board a little bit and got a hundred in the next one in Kolkata.”
Speaking about his relationship with the 31-year old batsman, Gary said, “Our relationship was formulated around him as a young player coming in, and me trying to say to him ‘listen, you might think you have got it, but you have a long way to go’ kind of vibe.”
The current No. 1 ODI batsman later flourished under the watchful eyes of Gary Kirsten and was also an important part of the 2011 World Cup-winning team.