India news November 8, 2010

'Team could be one of India's greatest' - Kirsten

ESPNcricinfo staff

Gary Kirsten, India's coach, believes that if his Test side can win the series in South Africa, they could be regarded as one of India's greatest Test teams. In an extensive interview with ESPNcricinfo, Kirsten said it would be great to win in South Africa, but that the side didn't need to prove anything.

"We don't need to justify it to anyone," Kirsten said. "The performances speak loud: 23 Tests, two losses, 12 wins. When you look at the performances of the five top-ranked Test teams over the two years, you know why India are at the top.

"But to remain the top-ranked team, we need to continue performing. If we do win in South Africa, then you can start talking about one of the greatest Test teams India have ever produced."

Kirsten, a former South Africa opener, knows it is not going to be easy. "South Africa are very tough to beat at home as India are to beat in India," he said. "The wickets really suit the pace bowlers."

He dismissed suggestions that India's batsmen are susceptible to short bowling, though. "It is all about players hitting form at the right time. I certainly don't think that any opposition can use that as an out-and-out strategy to undo the Indian Test batting line-up. There is too much experience in this team now.

"Also the Indian fast bowlers are good themselves on helpful wickets - Sreesanth, Ishant [Sharma] and Zak [Zaheer Khan] are a good bowling attack... This Test series will be a defining moment for us."

Be that as it may, followers of Indian cricket have been living in trepidation about the team's possible fortunes once the big three in the middle order retire. Kirsten, though, said that none of them has spoken to him of retirement. He said that when Rahul Dravid, VVS Laxman and Sachin Tendulkar decide to call it a day, it is bound to be a big blow, but India will do well if they make sure the farewells are not too close together.

"There is no inclination of any of them retiring," Kirsten said. "And I always ask them. They are certainly not in any rush. Look, if Rahul Dravid decides to retire, it is a major blow. Just like when [somebody like] Jacques Kallis decides to retire, it is a major blow for any team.

"There are enough young guys there but it will take them few years. There might be a rebuilding phase in India in two years' time."

Kirsten sounded hopeful of India's future after the big three. "There are some really good young players," he said. "You will have [Virender] Sehwag, [Gautam] Gambhir, [MS] Dhoni, [Suresh] Raina, along with the likes of [Murali] Vijay and [Cheteshwar] Pujara and others. Yes, you might miss out on a Laxman batting in a crucial situation to win you a game - that experience - but someone like Suresh Raina has done it plenty of times in one-dayers, so there is no reason why he can't transfer that into the Test match arena."

More than the retirements, which is a natural transition, Kirsten was concerned with the side's injury management, especially outside the squad on national duty. "I think it is important that we continue to monitor players when they get injured. Maybe a physical conditioning co-ordinator between the NCA and the team, who operates as a link, could be a good idea in the future. In this way the players will have a programme set up for their rehabilitation rather than them making the decision to go to the NCA. It is difficult for the team management to monitor players whilst on the road - our focus is always on preparing the players for the next game.

"With Anil Kumble's appointment [as director of the NCA], I'm looking forward to creating some dialogue around this to work out the most effective system."

Read part one of the interview here

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dummy4 on November 15, 2010, 7:58 GMT

    harbhajan play very well continew bhajjii 2nd time u save a game.... best of luck 4 ur feature

  • swaroop on November 13, 2010, 2:42 GMT

    @KiwiRocker:ponting averaged 26.48 in india .isn't he a good batsmen then?

  • swaroop on November 12, 2010, 2:51 GMT

    @KiwiRocker@:Tendulkar averaged 58.53 against aus in aus.In 1992-93 season tendulkar averaged 33.16, in 96-97 he averaged 40.16,in 2001-02 he averaged 64.33,in 2006-07 he averaged 33.16 in south africa.In 2006-07 donald is not there in sa as far as every one know. IF YOU CALL A BATSMEN WHO HAS SCORED MORE THAN 30000 RUNS IN INTERNATIONAL CRICKET AND SCORED 95 CENTURIES TILL DATE AND STILL GOING STRONG FOR MORE AND HAD ALMOST EVERY RECORD ON HIS OWN NAME ALONG WITH THE 200 IN ODI'S AS OVER RATED THEN YOU MUST BE JOKING.

  • Munawar on November 10, 2010, 7:42 GMT

    Laxman is perhaps the best batsman in world right now. Gambhir must make way for Jaffer. It's time to get the country's best bat who is not in the team back into the team. Technically and temperamentally Jaffer is the most well equipped for No.2 position and is a much better option than Vijay in Tests. Dravid must retire now. He clearly is struggling these days. Time for him to bid adieu. Pujara must be brought back in. Raina must go. He is good for ODIs and T20s but doesn't have the technique or temperament for Tests. No, Yuvraj shouldn't replace Raina. Yuvraj has got enough Test chances and is good for ODIs & T20s like Raina. Rohit like Yuvraj doesn't merit a Test place either. Kaif deserves a Test chance provided Dhoni agrees. Kaif as a wounded tiger will grab the opportunity with both hands and could be a threat for MSD as a potential future Test captain. Else Badrinath merits a Test cap. Ishant needs to be brought back in the Test XI. He is a special talent. Ojha must be persisted

  • Andrew on November 10, 2010, 0:44 GMT

    @gopal krishna sharma re: comments about umpiring decisions, there wasn't much whinging by Oz fans over the Ojha LBW not out. It was noted in the media & thats it. There was no threat to abandon the tour, (unlike India in Sth Africa & Oz), the only criticism were at India not using the UDRS, which I think alot of people both Indian & others feel is weak. The UDRS whilst hasn't been proven to be infalible, has not unduly swayed a decision as far as I can tell - meaning, it has done no harm. So why not use it? BTW - there were other decisions that went against Oz in the series, anyone of those decisons could of delivered a different Test result. The record will always say that India won 2nil, the reality was it was a close hard series, (although the margin of the second test may not indicate this).

  • Andrew on November 10, 2010, 0:31 GMT

    @SnowSnake - agreed, to be a great player there is a requirement to have a (greed/hunger/appetite) for runs or wickets. I don't agree with kiwirocker, I would never say SRT was greedy, although I have seen his S/R dip in ODI's as he gets close to 100, when I feel he should keep the runs flowing. @SatyajitM - agreed in general, I don't have a problem with India being #1 as such, (I believe SA are the best team in the world at the moment in Tests), my big issue is that since gaining the #1 ranking they have not done much to defend it. I mean why play 3 tests against NZ & only 2 against SL, Sth A, & Oz? Also remember when Oz was undespitued as the #1 side, Sth Africa ended up claiming the #1 spot at least once, despite at the time having never beating Oz at home or away in a Test Series. So I feel there are some kinks in the way the ratings system is calculated. But India are the most consistant over the last 2 yrs. The SA tour will be very interesting, I'd like to see even contest.

  • mohammad on November 9, 2010, 16:36 GMT

    Yeah all u do is play home games and be no.1.

    try playing away games too.

    No indias no.1 team lmao, bowling is not even close to good.

  • Arjun on November 9, 2010, 16:24 GMT

    This team does deserve to be No:1 given the stats. They are getting stronger as a team with every match , and thats what took them to the No:1 spot. They firmly believe that no matter what the situation is, they can get past it successfully. That was evident with cameos of Ishant and Bhaji recently. But upcoming 2 series will really test the whole side, playing SA in SA and England in England after the WC. Batting unit is just way too intimidating for any side with the trio SRT, Laxman and Dravid in the middle order. However there is one concern, India started playing four mainstream bowlers atmost in all matches. Zaheer, Ishant/Sreesanth, Bhaji and Ohja. If the opposition takes out two of them, or if there are injury concerns, then that will be huge problem. Like Vijay, Pujara, Raina being the called the next gen batsmen, they should also start building a stronger bowling unit. This applies for all forms of the game.

  • P on November 9, 2010, 14:24 GMT

    Sometimes I don't get cricinfo comments. Calling Sachin greedy? Since when greed is a bad thing? An euphism for greed may be hunger for runs. A batsman has to be greedy, what else do you expect from him? For Sachin to not score runs or sacrifice his wicket for other weak batsman? Sachin has to be greedy for runs and personal records, othewise he fails to be valuable for India.

  • Rahul on November 9, 2010, 14:08 GMT

    @nav84smom: Canada surely has a better chance at the WC when compared to making anyone make any sense outta your comments

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