Gary Kirsten Reveals Sachin Tendulkar Was Unhappy When He Joined India As A Coach
By CricShots - Feb 14, 2023 1:15 pm
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Over the years, the Indian team has witnessed several coaches, and owing to the population of the country, the expectation is always sky-high amid the immense media pressure. But for former India head coach Gary Kirsten, the first experience was a tad difficult as he joined the squad in late 2007 when India had suffered a humiliating ODI World Cup exit. He sensed an air of ‘unhappiness’ in the dressing room before revealing why MS Dhoni was a ‘standout’ for him as he compared the former skipper to the legendary Sachin Tendulkar.

MS Dhoni and Gary Kirsten
MS Dhoni and Gary Kirsten

Speaking to Adam Collins in ‘The Final Word cricket podcast’ show in YouTube, Gary Kirsten recalled that when he was appointed as India’s head coach in December 2007, he sensed a ‘lot of scarring’ and ‘unhappiness’ in the team. He pointed out that Sachin Tendulkar was ‘deeply unhappy’ and was thinking about retiring from the game.

As per the quotes in Hindustan Times, Gary Kirsten said, “The standout for me then was what kind of leadership was then required to take this very talented team and turn it into a world-beating team.  When I took over there was definitely a lot of scarring in the team. There was a lot of unhappiness and hence for me it was more important to understand each individual and where they felt they fitted in the team and what was going to make them play cricket for sheer joy.”

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He further added “Sachin was probably a stand out for me because he was deeply unhappy at the time that I joined the team. He felt he had a lot to offer, but he wasn’t enjoying his cricket and he was at a time in his career when he felt maybe he should retire. It was important for me to connect with him and make him feel that he had a massive contribution to make to the team and his contribution was more than what he needed to do.”

Gary Kirsten
Gary Kirsten and Sachin Tendulkar

It was the Kirsten-Dhoni partnership that helped India to lift its much-awaited ODI World Cup in 20211. Gary Kirsten admitted that amid the ‘superstar’ culture in India, cricketers tend to forget that their job is to perform for the team and not to make individual records and this was the area where Dhoni stood out from players like Tendulkar.

Explaining the same, Gary Kirsten said, “Any coach would want a group of players playing for the name on the front of the short and not the name on the back of the shirt. India is a tough place with a lot of hype around individual superstar and you often get lost in what your own personal needs are. And Dhoni meanwhile was standout as a leader as he was so focused on the team doing well he wanted to win trophies and have great success and he was very public about that.”

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He concluded by saying, “And that pulled a lot of other guys into line and quite simply Sachin started enjoying cricket as well. MS and I formed the most unlikely partnership of captain-coach you will ever imagine in international game, and we end up having this incredible journey together.”