Former India coach Gary Kirsten has opened up on a chapter from his coaching tenure with the Indian cricket team, where he helped Sachin Tendulkar thrive in the final leg of his career, and in turn, banishing the thoughts of retirement that had surrounded the mind of India’s batting genius.
In his autobiography, ‘Playing It My Way’, Tendulkar had mentioned how he contemplated retirement after India’s painful exit from the 2007 World Cup. Although it was West Indies great Viv Richards who talked Tendulkar out of it, it was Kirsten’s role and the environment he created that allowed Tendulkar to experience a late career renaissance.
“If I think of Sachin at that time,” Kirsten said on talkSport’s Following On podcast. “Where he was when I arrived in India… he wanted to give up the game. According to him he was batting out of position, he wasn’t enjoying his cricket at all. Three years later, he scores 18 international hundreds in three years, goes back to batting where he wants to bat, and we win the World Cup.”
Under Kirsten, who was appointed coach in 2008, Tendulkar’s batting really peaked, as he scored 2149 runs in ODIs between 2008 and 2011 with seven centuries. In 2010, he became the first man to notch up an ODI double and was named Wisden Cricketer of the Year, as he piled more than 1500 Test runs, including seven centuries averaging 78.
Kirsten pointed out how he did not work on bring about massive changes, and instead just focussed on ensuring that Tendulkar found the kind of atmosphere that would bring out the best in him. And hence, the older Tendulkar got, his skills kept getting better.
“For me, all I did was facilitate an environment for him to thrive. I didn’t tell him anything. He knew the game, but what he did need was an environment – not only him, all of them – an environment set up where they could be the best version of themselves,” Kirsten said.