Thursday, November 29, 2007

Kirsten to confirm acceptance next week

Former South Africa batsman Gary Kirsten on Thursday confirmed that he will take up the Indian coaching job.

"It is a great honour to be offered the coaching job of India, where cricket is a national passion," he told over telephone from Cape Town.

"The BCCI has given me an offer letter with one week's time to reply back. So early next week I will reply to them," he added.

Kirsten emerged a surprise candidate to take over the post lying vacant since Greg Chappell's departure in April. The 40-year-old attended a secret interview with the Board of Control for Cricket in India's coach selection committee in Delhi on Monday.

"The meeting with the committee went off very well. It was good to know that they had so much confidence in me to take over this job," Kirsten said.

The committee that interviewed Kirsten included former India captains Sunil Gavaskar , Ravi Shastri and S Venkataraghavan, BCCI joint-secretary M P Pandove, treasurer N Srinivasan and secretary Niranjan Shah.

India's Test captain Anil Kumble was also invited to attend the meeting.

Kirsten also confirmed that it was the BCCI who had approached him.

"Yes, I was offered the job by the BCCI. I never applied for it, but it was them who approached me in the beginning of November," he confirmed. He played down the pressure involved in taking up such a high profile job.

"There is always going to be pressure in cricket. I have played under pressure for such a long time. As a coach my job would be to create an environment where all the players can perform at their best. That would be my priority," he reiterated.

The former South Africa opener said he hasn't made a decision on when he would join the Indian team.

"It is something that we are discussing at the moment. Obviously, the view of the senior players is important, so that is something we will discuss after I reply to the BCCI next week. Also, I have got a few commitments in hand."

Kirsten also added that he spoke with Kumble.

"I had a chat with him when I met during the meeting in Delhi. I get on along with him very well since we played a lot against each other. We will obviously continue to be in touch because it is important to know the feeling of the players," the South African said.

Earlier in the day, Kumble had given his approval to Kirsten's appointment.

"He has been in a team that has been successful in the late 90s. His skills as a player will be an asset to the team," the leg-spinner said on the eve of the second India-Pakistan Test in Kolkata.

Kirsten also seemed delighted with Kumble's comment and said: "I am happy with Kumble's comment. It is important to fall in relationship with players. India has got a good bunch of talented players; it is a good mix of youth and experience."

He also downplayed reports which said he had written in a tour diary in 1996 that India was not a good place to tour.

"I don't know where it came from. I always have enjoyed playing in India," he responded to the claims.

Kirsten is one of South Africa's top batsmen, having scored 7,289 and 6,798 runs in 101 Tests and 185 ODIs respectively. He retired from international cricket in 2004 after which he took over as South Africa's high performance manager. Later, he also set up the Gary Kirsten Cricket Academy in Cape Town and conducted a coaching clinic with the Zimbabwe national team in July this year.

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