PCB appoint Gary Kirsten, Jason Gillespie as head coaches for men's cricket team

Kirsten will take charge of the white-ball cricket, including One Day Internationals (ODIs) and Twenty20 Internationals (T20Is), while Gillespie will guide the team in red-ball cricket

PCB appoint Gary Kirsten, Jason Gillespie as head coaches for men's cricket team PHOTO: FILE

The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) has appointed Gary Kirsten from South Africa and Jason Gillespie from Australia as head coaches for the men's national cricket team. PCB chairman Mohsin Naqvi made the announcement at a press conference held in Lahore on Sunday.

The appointment of the new coaches has been made on two-year contracts, following an extensive recruitment process. The coaching team will take charge of the national side as they prepare for upcoming international fixtures.

Kirsten will take charge of the white-ball cricket formats, overseeing the One Day Internationals (ODIs) and Twenty20 Internationals (T20Is), while Gillespie will lead the team in red-ball cricket, managing the Test matches.

Kirsten is set to lead the team starting with the England tour in May, which includes a four-match T20I series beginning on May 22 in Leeds. The series will conclude on May 30, after which the team will head to the USA and the Caribbean for the T20 World Cup.

Gillespie will take charge during the Bangladesh series in August, which will feature a two-Test series. His coaching tenure has been marked by successes both domestically and internationally, emphasizing player development and team performance.

Additionally, Azhar Mahmood has been appointed as the assistant coach for all formats, bringing his expertise to support both head coaches and the national team.

Chairman Naqvi expressed confidence in the new appointments, emphasizing the coaches' extensive experience and success in their respective fields. He stated that their guidance would play a crucial role in helping the team reach new levels of performance across all formats of the game.

“I extend my congratulations to Jason Gillespie and Gary Kirsten on their appointments as the red and white-ball head coaches of the Pakistan men’s cricket team, respectively. Their stellar track records precede them, and I warmly welcome them to the Pakistan cricket family.

“Jason’s coaching career has been marked by success both at the domestic and international levels, with a focus on player development and achieving excellence in team performance. Gary’s coaching career has been marked by his ability to instill a winning mentality, develop young talent, and achieve success at the highest levels of the game, making him one of the most respected and sought-after coaches in cricket.

“In this background, I have every confidence that their expertise will guide our players to reach new heights, aligning with their inherent talent and the expectations of our passionate fans. These high-quality appointments also present a remarkable opportunity for our players to glean insights from these seasoned professionals, refining their skills and fortifying their cricketing acumen.

“The PCB is unwavering in its commitment to furnish the national team with top-tier resources and facilities, fostering an environment conducive to unlocking their full potential and consistently delivering stellar performances, " Naqvi said.

Kirsten and Gillespie also opened up after this appointments in respective formats.

Gary Kirsten:

“It’s a tremendous honour to be entrusted with the responsibility of coaching the Pakistan men’s national team in white-ball cricket and to rejoin the international cricket arena after some time. I eagerly anticipate this opportunity and aim to contribute positively to the Pakistan men's national team in limited-overs cricket.

“One of the beautiful aspects of cricket is its universality. Across cultures, there’s a shared understanding when we discuss the game. My goal is to unite the Pakistan men’s white-ball team, harnessing their considerable talents towards a common objective, and achieving success together on the field.

“My perspective on Pakistan cricket has remained consistent over time. There’s always an inherent expectation for the team to perform at a high level consistently. However, in team sports, maintaining peak performance is not always guaranteed. As a coach, it’s immensely gratifying to assist players in unlocking their full potential. I eagerly anticipate collaborating with the individual players and the team, facilitating their growth and development.

“For cricket enthusiasts globally, Pakistan players are a familiar sight, showcasing their skills across various platforms. It's truly a joy to watch them play the game.

“Understanding the current state of the team and charting a path towards our desired goals is paramount. Winning ICC Events, while challenging, remains a significant objective. Whether it’s the upcoming tournament in June or events in the future, achieving success in these competitions would be a remarkable feat.

“My primary objective is to ensure the team operates at its optimal level. Success on the field is contingent upon the team performing at its best. Consistency and continuity are values I hold dear. While player form fluctuations are inevitable, maintaining a stable environment is crucial. I am committed to supporting players through their ups and downs, prioritising continuity in selections whenever possible," Kirsten said.

Jason Gillespie:

“I am grateful to the PCB for their faith in my abilities and giving me the honour of coaching one of the most highly-regarded and talented cricket teams in the traditional format of the sport. Leading the Pakistan cricket team is a big achievement for any coach, given its rich legacy and passionate fan base. 

“I love Test cricket and being able to focus on that is something I like very much. I also love the fact that there is so much talent in Pakistan. I like to think that I can help in some way to grow and develop the players. I want to win Tests – that is why I am taking this role. I love winning and I know we have got the skill to make that happen.

“The ICC World Test Championship is the ultimate in the Test format. I understand this cycle is likely to prove too great a task as we would need to win a lot of matches in a short space of time to have any chance of making the final, but aspiring to be in that final, and to winning it, has to be a medium- to long-term goal for us.

“Ultimately, it is all about playing the style of cricket we want to play, one that helps us win matches, excites the public and puts smiles on the faces of everyone connected with Pakistan cricket. 

“Within Pakistan we have a number of high-quality fast bowlers and being able to utilise them will be a key part of any success we enjoy. But we have quality in all departments – pace, spin, batting and keeping. We have all bases covered. It is exciting to know we have that talent and I am looking forward to working with such talented players.

“I understand there will be expectation and that comes with the role. All I can do is to take it in my stride and I would not have taken on the job if I did not think I could deal with it," Gillespie said.

Gillespie, a 49-year-old former Australian fast bowler, had a successful playing career from 1996 to 2006, featuring in 71 Tests, 97 ODIs, and 1 T20I. He took 402 wickets and scored 1,531 runs, with his best bowling figures being seven for 37 against England in 1997. Gillespie was part of Australia's 2003 ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup-winning team and has transitioned into coaching with great success. He is an ECB-accredited Level 4 coach, who led Yorkshire to two County Championship titles and has also coached Adelaide Strikers, Sussex, and South Australia. Additionally, he coached in Zimbabwe and served as interim head coach of Papua New Guinea.

Kirsten, 56, is a former South African top-order batter with a career spanning from 1993 to 2004. He played in 101 Tests and 185 ODIs, amassing 14,087 runs with 34 centuries. Kirsten was part of the South Africa team that won the 1998 ICC Knock-Out Trophy and competed in three ICC Men’s Cricket World Cups. His coaching career includes leading India to victory in the 2011 ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup and coaching South Africa to the No. 1 spot in the ICC Test Team Rankings. Kirsten has also coached in the IPL and currently mentors the Gujarat Titans, winners of the 2022 Indian Premier League.

It is worth noting that the head coach position had been vacant since Grant Bradburn, who succeeded Saqlain Mushtaq, stepped down in January to join Glamorgan as their head coach. The PCB had approached several high-profile candidates, including Shane Watson, who ultimately withdrew from the selection process.