Gary Kirsten reveals why he accepted Pakistan's white-ball coaching role

Gary Kirsten cited the appeal of working with some of the best cricketers in the world

Gary Kirsten reveals why he accepted Pakistan's white-ball coaching role PHOTO: AFP

Pakistan's newly appointed white-ball coach Gary Kirsten has shared his thoughts on his appointment and plans for the national team's limited-overs cricket as the 2024 World Cup 2024 is just a month away.

Speaking on the Pakistan Cricket Board's podcast, Kirsten expressed his excitement, calling it a wonderful privilege to coach the national team and to be involved in international cricket again after some time.

"It’s a wonderful privilege to be offered the opportunity to coach the Pakistan men’s national team in white-ball cricket, and also to be involved in international cricket again, which I haven’t been for a while. That’s a huge honor to be in the international game. So, I’m looking forward to the opportunity and hopefully can add some value to the Pakistan men’s national team in limited-overs cricket," Gary said.

Regarding why he chose Pakistan, Kirsten cited the appeal of working with some of the best cricketers in the world. 

"I was offered the role to begin with. I think Pakistan sits as one of the top four to five coaching jobs in the world internationally. The proposition to work with some of the best cricketers in the world was appealing to me. What is important is that I have the opportunity to work with some of the best cricketers in the world and that excites me," he said.

While Kirsten admitted he hadn't closely followed Pakistan's white-ball cricket until the offer, he expressed familiarity with the players through various tournaments.

"Not very closely until I was offered the opportunity, to be honest with you. I mean, obviously, I watched a lot of the World Cup last year. I’ve watched bits and pieces of short format cricket and then I watched HBL Pakistan Super League, which is really at a great time in South Africa. It’s in the evening, so we can kind of come back from a working day and switch on the TV and there’s HBL PSL," he said.

"So, I’m familiar with all the players pretty much just watching them through the various tournaments.  you’re a cricket lover internationally, you are very familiar with the Pakistan players because they’re all over the place and it’s great watching them play cricket," he added.

Kirsten shared his excitement to work with known Pakistan players including Babar Azam and Shaheen Afridi.

"We finding the best players that we have in Pakistan and working with them. You know your household names – your Babar Azam, your Mohammad Rizwan, your Shaheen Afridi, your Haris Rauf. All these guys have been around the circuit for a long time. I’m looking forward to understanding what makes them tick and how I can help them to be the best versions of themselves going forward. That is going to be of benefit to the national team," he said.

Gary Kirsten spoke fondly of his experience in Pakistan.

"I never felt uncomfortable in Pakistan, I always felt warmly treated and then the cricket was competitive, facing some of the best fast bowlers in the world over a number of years."

The 56-year-old values Azhar Mahmood's contribution as the assistant coach, recognizing Mahmood's deep understanding of the players and the cricketing landscape.

"Absolutely, he’s been an incredible help, he definitely knows the players better than I do. We're going to work closely together and I think we’ve got a decent relationship. I’ve played a lot of cricket against Azhar, we’ve been on the opposite sides of the cricket field, but we’re on the same team now. So, I’m kind of looking forward to that journey with him," Gary said.

"In the end, our role is really to enable the team to play at its best. That is the job of the coaches. We’ll do everything in our power to make sure that we attempt to do that," he added.

The former South African cricketer emphasizes the importance of understanding Pakistan's current position and setting realistic goals for the team's performance in ICC events, including two T20 World Cups and one Champions Trophy over the next couple of years.

"Well, my designation is the white-ball coach. So, 50-over cricket will be as important as T20 cricket. I think the important thing for me is to understand where the team is at and where we want to go to - whether that is winning World Cup events, which, by the way, is not easy. Often some people think you just pitch in and you’re going to win the championship," Gary said.

"But, if you can win one of those three ICC Events, that will be an amazing achievement on its own, whether it’s the upcoming event or it’s two years from now. My job is to make sure that the team operates at its best, it’s as simple as that. And if the team is operating at its best, we will always have a good chance of winning a trophy. But if the team is not operating at its best, we won't and that would be the same for any team,” he concluded.