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Coaches need to adopt Gary Kirsten’s approach

The India coach has established trust and acceptability, writes Makarand Waingankar

In any sport, a coach can make or break a career. In cricket there are numerous examples of the stormy relationships between the players and the coach.

Very rarely do we hear of a team complimenting the coach and when Yuvraj Singh praised coach Gary Kirsten, one had to take into account the fact that it came from a player who was under John Wright and Greg Chappell.

Wright was a low-key coach. He was working on a particular process that was approved by captain Sourav Ganguly. He did that diligently. Chappell though hardly had any experience of handling an international team. He perhaps felt he could pioneer a new process that would revolutionise international cricket management.

To be fair to him, he did say this in his presentation to the committee that appointed him. If three of the key members in the committee — S. Venkatraghvan, Sunil Gavaskar and Ravi Shastri — didn’t find anything objectionable with what Chappell had projected, the nation felt the right person was picked for the important job.

But no presentation, however impressive it may look, can predict the inter-personal relationship aspect so very crucial to a team game.

Gone are the days when England captain Ray Illingworth could summon main bowler John Snow to his room (before the Ashes series began in 1970) and warn him that he could be sent back if he went on reciting his poems on the field. Snow went on to take 32 wickets that helped England win the Ashes.

Things have changed. Kirsten seems to have done his homework well on ways to handle the Indian team. He has either discussed the handling of the team with his predecessors or analysed the pitfalls that could derail the preparations.

If cricketing and administrative pitfalls are tackled, implementation of techno-administrative plans tend to succeed. Kirsten did that well. Now he is focussing on individual needs.

Trust and acceptability are the two important qualities any successful coach has to establish.

The Indian team has acknowledged it. Sri Lankans say “Dav Whatmore got the best out of them”. Once the bridge of trust is built, players focus on strategies because they know the coach is there to back them.

Ego trips

Why do our coaches falter? Quite a few of those on the domestic scene are far too egoistic to understand the importance of establishing faith. ‘Do as I tell you’ is what they say and ensure that players follow instructions.

If the players show resentment, they are gotten rid of. At junior level in State matches, players are abused in public and in one particular case the coach of a junior elite team hit the players with slippers a few years ago. Reason?

The team had lost. Kirsten has shown that a coach has to be a quiet observer while understanding the approach and attitude of the players.

The mood and temperament of players, their disappointment from failure, technical faults and their practical solutions are part of the coach’s job but to weave all these aspects into making a successful combination, a coach has to be open minded and studious.

It’s not simply because India is No. 1 right now that Kirsten deserves (Robin Singh and Venkatesh Prasad too have contributed immensely) praise, but it is the process he has adopted that needs to be hailed. It’s this process Indian coaches need to emulate.

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