Cape Town, Dec 31 (IANS) Former South Africa opener Gary Kirsten has expressed interest in coaching England’s Test side, saying it would be ‘a really lovely project’ to be a part of. Kirsten’s comments come after speculations rose over current England coach Chris Silverwood’s future after the Test side lost the Ashes in just 12 playing days. Moreover, England lost nine Tests in 2021 under Silverwood.
Kirsten had applied for the post of England coach in 2015 and 2019, but was beaten by Trevor Bayliss and Silverwood respectively. “Working with a Test side, or working with an ODI side is great. Listen, the England ODI side is set-up, you’re the best ODI side in the world at the moment. It’s a project that has been well-thought out. You’ve got consistency in the players that have been picked. Your Test side has battled for a while but it would be a really lovely project to get that going,” Kirsten was quoted as saying by inews.co.uk.
Kirsten’s coaching CV in international cricket is a glittering one. He coached India to be on top of the Test rankings for the first time in December 2009, just a year after being at helm. He signed off from being India’s head coach after winning the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup at home in 2011.
Kirsten then proceeded to coach South Africa and took them to top of Test rankings in 2012 after defeating England 2-0 in their backyard.
Kirsten hasn’t coached any international team since 2013 and has held coaching roles with T20 franchises Royal Challengers Bangalore, Hobart Hurricanes and Durban Heat. As of now, Kirsten is working as the head coach of men’s Hundred franchise Welsh Fire.
The 54-year-old is clear about one thing if he gets to coach England: separate coaches for red-ball and white-ball formats.
“Listen, it (the England job) is always a consideration because it’s a tremendous honour. I’ve walked this journey twice now (when England recruited new coaches in 2015 and 2019) and I’ve always made it clear that I would never commit to doing all formats. And when international cricket boards get their head around the fact that they need to split coaching roles, then it becomes a consideration.”
Kirsten is a firm believer in prioritising of creating strong teams in Test cricket over white-ball formats.
“Interestingly, when I finished with India and I joined South Africa, we just looked at it and said ‘our priority has to be Test match cricket’. I actually said to the CEO of Cricket South Africa that I was happy to just do the Test side because I felt it should be the No 1 side in the world. It had all the credentials to do that.”
Asked on what makes coaching in all formats difficult, Kirsten explained, “The issue is that the different formats have the potential to cannibalise teams. You focus too much attention on one format and the other format takes the hit. It’s not easy to get everything right. Look at Australia, they’re now using a lot of players across the different formats.”
Kirsten believes if he comes on board for being England’s Test coach, he would like to bring the team on track, something which he felt when he talked to many stakeholders during The Hundred.
“It (England) is an interesting one. I think it’s a great project for someone to come in and take that Test side on. There’s a lot that needs to be put in place to build this Test team out. When I was over there I asked a number of coaches and players who their top six would be for the England Test side – and I never got the same answer from anyone.
“That’s a good illustration of the issue you have. If you don’t know what your top six is, or really have no idea of the best six batsmen in the country, then how can build consistency around guys who are going to come in and, when needed, make a play?”