ICL: Indian Cricket League

Tour of Australia is a mental battle- Kirsten


kirstenGary Kirsten, the former South African batsman who will take over as the India coach on March 1, feels this a good time to join the Indian team, mid-way through an Australian tour marred by controversy.

“Maybe it’s not a bad position to be in because I’ve been so far removed from what’s been going on,” said Kirsten, who arrived in Perth on Saturday to join the team in his interim capacity as a consultant coach ahead of the third Test, starting on January 16.

Kirsten, who had flown from Johannesburg, appeared fresh this morning and, along with his wife Deborah, awaited the arrival of the Indian team from Canberra. “It’s probably a healthy position and I bring a fresh perspective,” he told Cricinfo. “The important thing for me is to focus the Indian players back on cricket. I would certainly want the Indian players to play their brand of cricket on Australian soil. I don’t want them to play any other brand; they must play to their strengths. I’m sure they are already doing that.”

Kirsten says the only way the Indians can now bounce back into the series, which they currently trail 0-2, is to stay calm. “It’s a cricket tour full of emotion but one needs to calm oneself and create some composure; that’s the only way you can be at your best. If you sidetrack to the other issues you are going to have problems. I’m a looking at it from a distance so I was trying to look at it very objectively as to what went right and what went wrong.”

So where did it go wrong for India in Sydney? “The Indians are naturally disappointed with the last game. There’s no doubt that they came over here to win a Test series. They can’t anymore. That’s why they felt that at the SCG they were back in the series after being outplayed in Melbourne. And they felt they were right in the Sydney Test and naturally the emotions started to run high when things didn’t go their way.

“They played well and they played like anyone knows that they can play,” he said of VVS Laxman, Sachin Tendulkar and Sourav Ganguly. “For a period of time India dominated that game. That’s what they were looking to do and they were able to achieve that.”

Having said that, he was critical of the way they approached their second innings, considering how dependent they are on their batsmen. “When you get to the last day of a Test match and Australia are still batting you always have to be aware of these guys, that they are capable of doing something and knocking teams over very quickly. It was disappointing to see India get bowled out in effectively two sessions and I am sure the players would have been hit hard.

“At the MCG we lost in the first innings after being bowled out in the 100s. You are dead [after that], aren’t you? Then you really have to bowl very, very well. But we know the strength of the Indian team is weighted towards their batsmen and they knew from the outset that their batsmen needed to be in good form.”

India, who were crushed by 337 runs in the opening match in Melbourne, took refuge in their lack of preparation ahead of the game. Kirsten, though, doesn’t think the argument holds water. “More time helps but players are fully aware that one can’t use that as an excuse for losing a game,” he said, not wanting to come across as harsh. “It’s uncontrollable.”

Kirsten felt Anil Kumble had towered over the rest in this series, picking up 15 wickets in the first two Tests. “I have tremendous respect for his captaincy and he has certainly led by example, taking plenty of wickets,” he said, revealing that he had been exchanging text messages with Kumble throughout the series. “Equally his performance in the last hour-and-a-half in Sydney was testament to his character as a person, where you could see he was desperate to save that game. I’m sure he would have an influence on other players in the team.

“The tour of Australia is a very much a mental battle,” he said, drawing on his experience of touring Australia three times, in which he managed a healthy average of 43. He said he had prepared a report for the players once he went back to South Africa after his brief visit to Bangalore during the Pakistan series. That visit, he said, was to acquaint himself with the players; they hadn’t much discussed the Australian tour.

“Before the Australia series began I sent a document with my thoughts of the experiences I’d had in Australia,” he said. “It was quite lengthy but for their benefit, with my opinions and my ideas of how I think things are going to pan out on a tour like this and maybe how they should play against the Australians.

“They have to start thinking very seriously about how they can win the next two Tests. The only message I’m going to pass on is: ‘You must believe you can win the next two’. It would be crazy to try and just exist in the next two Test matches. Each individual needs to think seriously about what special thing he can do to come back.”

Source:Cricket News

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