After the distasteful Greg Chappell tenure, the onus was on BCCI to appoint the next head coach. The apex Indian cricket board could not have done a better job than selecting former South African opener, Gary Kirsten.
Kirsten enjoyed a successful partnership with captain MS Dhoni, with whom he helped India clinch the 2011 ODI World Cup.
Also, the ex-left hander had to manage big names in the team such as Sachin Tendulkar, Virender Sehwag, Yuvraj Singh and many other stalwarts.
Further, he had the task of grooming youngsters such as Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli, who were blossoming into quality international cricketers.
“When I met Virat first up, he had great abilities and talent and he was a young guy. But I kind of knew straight away that he wasn’t operating in the best version of himself. So, we had a number of discussions,” Kirsten said on the ‘The RK Show’.
In the initial few outings in an international career, Kohli tended to give away his starts after a flashy 30s and 40s.
“I’ll never forget one when we were playing an ODI series against Sri Lanka, and he was batting beautifully and he was on 30-odd not out. He then decided that he would try and hit the (bowler) over long-on’s head for six. And he got holed out,” the former Indian coach recalled.
“I just said to him, ‘If you’re going to take your cricket to the next level, you need to hit that ball down the ground for one to long-on. You know you can hit a lot of balls up the ground, but there’s a lot of risk attached to that’. I think he took that onboard a little bit and got a hundred in the next one in Kolkata,” he revealed.
Kohli paid rich dividends to the faith entrusted on him during the early stages of his international career. He now is arguably one of the best batsmen in all formats of the game.
“Our relationship was formulated around him as a young player coming in, and me trying to say to him ‘listen, you might think you have got it, but you have a long way to go’ kind of vibe,” Kirsten concluded.