India started their overseas coaches experiment with John Wright at the turn of the century. It was a bumper success and the then Indian captain Sourav Ganguly, wanted another foreign coach to replace him. He had at that time himself suggested the name of Greg Chappell to the BCCI and the Aussie got the job. That experiment though turned out to be a monumental failure and Chappell was unable to get along with players, which reflected in the results.
It was then that Gary Kirsten took over a fractured team India and his first task was to befriend the players. Gary recently said that Sachin at the time wasn’t enjoying his cricket and was batting out of position. He wanted to give up cricket. “You just asked him [Sachin], didn’t you, when you arrived, you just asked Sachin, ‘What would you want me to do? And he said, ‘Be my friend?”, host Neil Manthorp asked Kirsten on TalkSports’ Following On podcast.
Kirsten responded to the question and said, “Yeah, as simple as that. I ended up having a great coaching journey with him and that, for me, is where the essence of coaching is now, certainly modern coaching. You’re actually facilitating people’s ability to be the best version of themselves. If I think of Sachin at that time, where he was when I arrived in India … he wanted to give up the game. According to him, he was batting out of position, he wasn’t enjoying his cricket at all. Three years later, he scores 18 international hundreds in three years, goes back to batting where he wants to bat, and we win the World Cup. So, for me, all I did was facilitate an environment for him to thrive. I didn’t tell him anything. He knew the game, but what he did need was an environment – not only him, all of them – an environment set up where they could be the best version of themselves,” Kirsten concluded.