The following piece – penned by Rohit Brijnath – appeared this morning in Tabla.
The question it asks is one that we should ask in the good times. If this is the wind beneath the team’s wings, what can we learn from it. Too often, we’ll wait for the bad spell before casting blame.
Also, is this all Gary K’s doing ? Or are the BCCI gag orders responsible. Does it matter, either way.
Gary Kirsten is apparently the coach of the Indian cricket team. This is sometimes hard to tell. Certainly he is hardly to be seen in the newspapers, a fellow more low profile than a sulking mole. This is not altogether unpleasant for the last fellow in the job had yet to meet a microphone he didn’t like. Greg Chappell talked too much, Kirsten seems to talk not at all.
It might be argued that Kirsten’s job is not to talk anyway but to teach. Certainly John Wright could be a recluse, but in front of Kirsten he resembles a campaigning politician. Kirsten has learnt from Chappell’s error, that the spotlight belongs to the player not the coach, but this low-profile act, probably not of his making entirely, has gone too far.
Since the team is winning we presume Kirsten is having a fine effect. We must presume because there has been no major profile worth remembering, containing Kirsten’s thoughts, in an Indian paper (though, unusually, there was one in an English paper last year). Certainly the team is a choir singing his praises, but otherwise he’s as familiar to us as a blind date.
How does he cajole Sehwag and cool down Bhajji? What ideas are propelling this team? What areas does the team need to sandpaper? How do they balance the three teams? Questions abound. One of India’s finest commentators, says simply: “I don’t know anything about what he thinks.”
Is this bad? Well, it’s not a national crisis, not reason for chest-beating or office-burning, but let’s say this much. What Kirsten is doing, Indians especially deserve to know. Fans have the right to be part of this journey, they invest in their team, they might want to understand the mechanics of their team’s tilt at greatness, might like to know the man running their team. It’s not their right to know everything, but enough.
If Kirsten prefers not to speak, it’s a shame (though this is unlikely since he was blogging till told to stop). More likely, Kirsten is not being allowed to speak by the BCCI and that’s silly. A gag, if it exists, is an overreaction to Chappell and fails to recognise the obvious truth that no two men are the same. It is also immature. As if to say, we can trust a man to guide India’s precious team, but we can’t trust him not to be indiscreet.
Coaches can be engaging customers, whose creative enthusiasm allows us to keep looking at cricket differently. The late Bob Woolmer was full of original thought; the professorial John Buchanan is never shy of speaking. Sport needs ideas in the public domain, it makes for more interesting discourse.
Undoubtedly, the predatory part of India’s media pointlessly spins controversy from even a banal quote, and some wariness is warranted. But Wright gave strong, sensible interviews occasionally, one particularly famous one to Sambit Bal of Cricinfo in 2002, giving us an insight into his self and his mission.
Kirsten should tell the board he is smart enough to pick his words and his journalists. He should reveal parts of himself, tell us what he thinks about Indian cricket, let people look into his lined face and make up their minds, instead of emailing answers to India Today’s Sharda Ugra, whose intelligent enquiring questions were recently met by stilted, bland answers.
The fine, intelligent coach at work with this team, it would be nice to know him a little. As requests go, it hardly sounds unreasonable.