Dileep Premachandran blogs in on a story that probably woke a few of us up well and good this morning. He quotes The Daily Telegraph as having broken the story, but today's edition of the Mumbai Mirror also carries the very discoveries he highlights: that Gary Kirsten, to all intents and appearances the new coach of Team India, might be the modern equivalent of the British old boy buying a commission into a colonial regiment: in other words, he's only coming to India for the money. How do we know this? Because Kirsten's diary of his experiences in the tropics on his '96-'97 season tour of India, when he opened the batting for South Africa, is less 'bright colours, warm people,' and more 'eww, third world.' Gee. My memory's going, but surely all these pat references to staying away from red meat and very few new cars and the 'necessity' of a sense of humour when touring India seems a little excessive even for those contentious nineties.
I could, however, be wrong. Unless Kirsten was pandering to some sinister agenda in writing what he did, there's no reason to suspect him of unreasonable prejudice. Let's lay out the facts we are after all in possession of.
First: Gary Kirsten hated India in '96-'97.
Second: Gary Kirsten has actually considered returning here for a long-term [and for someone horrified by the heat/dust/restless natives we must assume any decent length of time is long-term] committment.
...there's no reason to suppose that he hasn't returned and fallen in love with the bright colours and warm people this time around? Even if he hasn't, and is only returning for a trouserwad of cash, we can't deny him his right to do so. We may not like Gary Kirsten, and Gary Kirsten may not like us.
But that trouserwad of cash is ours, and [she says with considerably mellowed enthusiasm] that cricket side he's coming to coach is ours too, and it's a matter of good business even before it is one of good taste and sensibility to wonder if we're going to get what we want out of both if the putative coach is a man with so little apparent respect for what they represent.
I was listening to Krish Srikkanth be his vehemently opinionated self on the radio today, and as I laughed at his inimitable train-rushing-through-a-tunnel style of expressing his distaste for the idea of a coach [any coach] [especially Gary Kirsten] [when clearly all we need is a manager!] improving upon a side that has done tolerably well for itself over the last four months, and already takes orders from Robin Singh and Venkatesh Prasad as far as fielding and bowling are concerned, I felt compelled to agree with him. Had the acrimony and egoism that pretty much billowed out of the Indian dressing room in the Greg Chappell days still been in evidence I might have felt differently, but the kids are alright, for now, and the benefits of Kumble and Dhoni's experience and imagination have been serving the side as well as a third-party tactician might have done. So coaches in general aren't what this cricket fan is looking for.
Gary Kirsten in particular is what this cricket fan is casting a beady eye over.
While on coaches, cheers to the Kop for a fine exhibition of support for Rafa Benitez in the ongoing tussle between coach and controlling interests currently causing unnatural creases upon the forehead of Steven Gerrard [what? oh]. It's the thought that counts.