Cricket’s Jose Mourinho without the arrogance

2012-08-25 15:39

Each sport has a coach who stands out as special and the Proteas’ Gary Kirsten is fast earning such a reputation. Khanyiso Tshwaku maps his progress.

Australian leggie Shane Warne once described a coach as the form of transport that takes them to the ground and back to the hotel, referring to the unorthodox methods used by John Buchanan during his term as the Aussie head honcho.

Kirsten may share Buchanan’s penchant for the unorthodox and World Cup triumphs, but taking two different Test sides to the number one spot marks out “Gazza” as cricket’s “Special One”.

After all, Real Madrid supremo Jose Mourinho now calls himself the “Unique One”.

The dust gathering in the corner of Cricket South Africa’s trophy cabinet where ICC trophies could have been kept will bother Kirsten no end.

As a player, he was part of Hansie Cronje’s side which won the 1998 ICC Champions Trophy in Bangladesh.
Winning a series in England is not impossible but neither is it a walk in the park, but it is something Kirsten failed to do on three occasions as a player.

As a coach, he is marking off the boxes he could not tick as a batsman and it is something he’s very proud of.

“To achieve that is very special, the players deserve all the credit for the effort and what they have put into this,” Kirsten told City Press.

Could Kirsten’s stock be higher than Buchanan’s? There’s plenty of reasons for it.

In a perfect world, coaches are not judged on how many trophies they win, but on how they transform makeweight sides into competitive units.

While Buchanan was a master tactician, he had an arsenal of excellent players that made even the shrewdest of army generals think twice about waging war.

Sans the Ashes 2005 mishap, Buchanan outmanoeuvred his opponents at every turn, but his true coaching worth will only be seen with his Black Cap stint as director of coaching.

Kirsten accepted cricket’s hottest coaching seat and with the world’s second largest population at his shoulder, he spread the weight perfectly.

India always had the talent to become world beaters, but the steel was not always there and he added it. The replication of the feat with his home country was even harder, but he has achieved it.

With England and India both relinquishing the Test mace without much of a fight, it’s something Kirsten wants to avoid at all costs.

“That’s going to be decisive. Our next series is against Australia and we will make sure that we are well prepared. We will go there and give it our best scrap,” Kirsten said.

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