Mumbai: After nurturing Team India for three years and guiding it to achieve the World Champions tag, Coach Gary Kirsten bids adieu to the team on a healthy state.

“It has been one of the hardest good byes I have had to say,” Kirsten told reporters in his farewell press conference after serving out a successful term during which the Indian team reached the pinnacle of Test rankings besides lifting its first World Cup title in 28 years, last week.

“It has been an amazing achievement to be a part of this special group of cricketers,” he said.

Kirsten came into the job with no coaching experience but turned out to be the most successful for India and the South African said having no prior experience probably worked to his advantage.

“I think it was interesting to come into this job without any coaching experience. I used the reference of being a player to work with the team. I tried building trust in the environment,” he said.

Kirsten, who declined an offer to extend his tenure, said he has no plans to take up any other coaching assignment as of now and wants to spend time with his family.

“I am going home to spend some time with my family. But I have to consider my future at some time. I have been fortunate to have been offered some jobs but I want to spend time with my family right now,” he said.

The Indian team performed consistently well under his guidance and Kirsten said there is hardly any area to improve upon from here except for fielding, which has also bettered in the past few months.

“They are the number one Test team in the world and won the World Cup so there is nothing much to improve. We have been working really hard on fielding and I was quite amazed at the way we fielded in the last three games of the World Cup,” he said referring to the improved standards of fielding in the Indian team’s knockout stage campaign.

The 43-year-old Kirsten said it would be quite a job for the next India coach as the task at hand is to sustain the consistency that the team has achieved in the past couple of years.

“Indian cricket is in a healthy position right now. Seam bowling is a slight concern but it has always been. But Indian cricket is going to be in a healthy state for a long time.

“It is going to be tough for the new coach in terms of the standards that have been set. But I don’t see why the team should not continue doing well. The foundation has been set. The new coach should bring in fresh ideas,” he said.

“I certainly wouldn’t want the new guy to try and emulate what has been done in the past three years. Consistency for this team is now going be very important. I think the foundation is well set,” he explained.

Speaking about individual players in the team, Kirsten lavished praise on the young brigade.

“Virat Kohli is ready for Test cricket. He is a bright young star. He has taken the responsibility of playing for India in big games really well. I think it’s important to have competitiveness to be in the Indian team. You cannot be in the team with average performances.

“I have really enjoyed working with Suresh Raina. He has been an exceptional player. I have been impressed with Cheteshwar Pujara who can be a star of the future in Test matches. Pragyan Ojha has done well and he just needs to keep learning what he has to do. It is important to find one or two quality seamers.

“I was impressed with Munaf Patel. He performed well in the World Cup. Ashish Nehra also did well in the World Cup. Zaheer Khan has been number one for a long time but guys these need support,” Kirsten said.

Kirsten said Zaheer, in fact, is the best medium pacer in the world right now.

“Zaheer is the best 135kmph bowler in the world right now. He performs well under pressure. I think he is an unbelievable bowler to left-handers,” he said.

Another player who got appreciation from the outgoing coach was flamboyant batsman Yuvraj Singh, who bagged the Man of the Tournament award at the World Cup for his fantastic performance with both the bat and ball.

“He was well-prepared and he had worked hard on his bowling. For Yuvi to end up being man of the tournament, I am extremely proud of him,” he said.

 

Leaving with cherished memories

Proud of the Indian cricket team''s achievement in the World Cup, outgoing coach Gary Kirsten said he was leaving the job with a heavy heart and with a lot of cherished memories.

"It''s one of the most cherished experiences of my life. We wanted to be the no. 1 ranked Test team in the world and win the World Cup and we have achieved both these goals. It has been a massive privilege to be part of Team India," Kirsten said at his farewell press conference in Mumbai.

Kirsten had a successful three year stint with the Indian team during which Mahendra Singh Dhoni''s men not only reached the pinnacle of Test rankings but also lifted the World Cup title after 28 years, last week.

He praised the the leadreship qualities of triumphant Indian skipper Dhoni and termed the Ranchi-born wicket-keeper batsman as the best current captain in world cricket.

"For me MS (Dhoni) is one of the greatest leaders of this country. It has been an honour to work with him over the last three years. I thank him for his support and friendship. He''s easily the best captain in world cricket today," Kirsten said.

The former South African opener also endorsed the widely held view that Dhoni was the quintessential "Captain Cool".

(Agencies)