Coach Kirsten bids goodbye to India

Gary Kirsten being carried by Indian players after winning the World Cup

Mumbai: Apr 5, 2011

India’s outgoing coach Gary Kirsten on Tuesday admitted he found it very hard to say goodbye to the World Cup-winning team and the country’s “special” cricketers.

“It has been one of the hardest goodbyes I have had to say,” the former South African batsman told reporters at his farewell press conference in Mumbai after a successful three-year stint with the team.

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

Kirsten, 43, played in 101 Tests and 185 one-day internationals before helping India become a formidable force as the number one Test side and number two behind Australia in one-day cricket.

Kirsten had announced his decision to quit as coach before the World Cup, which India won on Saturday with a six-wicket win over Sri Lanka in the final.

He said he had no plans to take up a coaching job in near future.

“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,” said Kirsten.

“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. 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 to be important.

“They are the number one Test team in the world and won the World Cup, so there is nothing much to improve,” said Kirsten.

“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.”

India knocked out three-time defending champions Australia in the quarter-finals, beat arch-rivals Pakistan in the semi-final before defeating Sri Lanka in the title clash.

“It was an interesting World Cup,” he said. “We never had it easy. In the last three games of the knock-out stage, there were no big individual contributions.

“It was a team effort. I was excited about the way we played,” he said.

Kirsten described his experience as Indian coach as “tremendous”.

“I have been honoured by the way Indians have embraced me,” he said. “It’s been incredible to see how much the Indian people love this game. To see the support the boys get from the Indian fans is fantastic.

“It’s a beautiful country. I have made lots of friends here, so I will keep coming back.”

Kirsten lavished praise on skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni.

“I have never seen a player give as much effort to every game,” the coach said. “Dhoni leads by example. He is the 100 percent man. I’ve never seen him lose (his) temper.

“He loves taking responsibility and when the team loses, no one feels it more than him. He is a great leader. He is the captain for next few years, no doubt.”

Dhoni was named man of the match for his unbeaten 91 in India’s six-wicket victory over Sri Lanka in the final in Mumbai on Saturday.

He was also the captain when India won the inaugural Twenty20 World Championships in South Africa in 2007.

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