India's coach 'agonised' over divided loyalties April 16, 2008

Kirsten relieved after series ends in stalemate

Cricinfo staff

Gary Kirsten watches Harbhajan Singh and Anil Kumble during a training session © AFP
Gary Kirsten, India's new coach, has expressed satisfaction with the team's performance after they won the third Test in Kanpur to level the three-Test series 1-1.

"Relief is the most obvious word which springs to mind after my first Test series in charge of Team India," Kirsten wrote in his official website. "I would have hated to start with a loss and, although a series win would have been preferable, to draw the series after being 1-0 down is satisfying."

Kirsten admitted that the team's preparations for the Ahmedabad Test, where they succumbed to an innings loss, "wasn't ideal", but spoke about the spirit shown ahead of the final Test. "The team showed fantastic discipline and a real sense of purpose before Kanpur. It is so important to be able to recognise and acknowledge mistakes and every player did that."

He also praised Anil Kumble's decision to sit out of the third Test due to a groin injury. "He is one of the most dedicated cricketers I have ever met and I doubt I have seen a man more determined to play. But he asked himself the ultimate question: 'Could I bowl 20 consecutive overs?' Most people in his situation would have ducked that question, but he didn't. It was a courageous and wise decision that only he could make. His team-mates will respect him all the more for making it."

Meanwhile Kirsten revealed his apprehensions about facing South Africa as an opponent. "I won't ever be dishonest: a very small part of me wondered before this series whether I might have divided loyalties. Well, I suffered and agonised over every ball as though my bloodline extended back for 100 years in India. And it was good to feel like that."