Former South Africa batsman Gary Kirsten believes coaching is a leadership position which requires an in-depth understanding of how teams and individuals thrive and what sort of environment is needed for this.
LONDON – Former South Africa batsman Gary Kirsten believes coaching is a leadership position which requires an in-depth understanding of how teams and individuals thrive and what sort of environment is needed for this.
Kirsten has served as the head coach of the Indian team as well as South Africa. it was under his tenure that the Men in Blue won the 2011 World Cup, when they defeated Sri Lanka in the final in Mumbai.
“Coaches require a variety of skillsets which allow them to have oversight in every segment of running a professional cricket team,” Kirsten told daily-sun.
“This includes season and tournament preparation, man-management, building a team culture, managing relationships, recruitment, contracting, strategy, recruitment and management of support staff, practice and training facilities, media commitments, team logistics, team feedback loops and debriefs, consultants and all other services linked to a high performance professional sports team,” he added.
The 52-year-old also believes that a coach must be able to successfully manage different types of personalities within a team.
“Coaches need to be able to successfully manage all different types of personalities so that each player has an opportunity to thrive. The coach is also trying to set a high performing team environment and has a responsibility for the success of the team and not only individuals.”
“Every new coach needs support from players who can drive the new culture or way of doing things. This can take time and to win these players over, requires trust, transparency and good connections. We expect too much from coaches in a short time,” he said.
Kirtsen, who has also served as a coach in the Indian Premier League as well as the Big Bash League in his coaching career, pointed out the difference between coaching a national side and a franchise team.
“A national team requires extensive travel because of all the touring which makes it difficult for families. A franchise team coaching job is tough in terms of building a culture and a ‘way of doing things’ in an eight-week tournament, with high expectation on short term results,” he said.
In modern-day cricket, technology is playing a huge role. And the former Proteas opener believes vairous aspects of cricket have been affected by it.
“It is becoming more important to decode, especially in T20 cricket. Every team is looking for a competitive advantage and the more advanced and relevant the data points, the more the coaches will embrace them.
Kirtsen also opened up about his relationship with Paddy Upton – who served as the mental health and conditioning coach of the Indian team. Upton was appointed mental conditioning and strategic leadership coach of the team in 2008. Under Kirsten and Upton, the team attained the ICC top Test team ranking for the first time in 2009, and went on to win the 2011 World Cup.
“Paddy was instrumental in this role in my three years with the Indian team,” said Kirsten.
“On hindsight, I believe sometimes even the right-hand man can come up with better plans. A strong trusting relationship where a head coach can be challenged and receive frequent meaningful feedback is vital for every team,” he added.