Former India coach and current head coach of Royal Challengers Bangalore, Gary Kirsten has witnessed the rise of India skipper Virat Kohli since he made his debut for India’s ODI team in 2008. However, Kohli, who was a budding cricketer at that point, was already gathering eyeballs courtesy of his exceptional skills with the willow and the never-ending desire to succeed. Kirsten was among those who had spotted his talent at an early age and in a recent interview with Wisden India, the 50-year-old revealed that he always knew Kohli was going to be a great cricketer and it was only a matter of time when he would be reaching the pinnacle of success. Stating that it gives him an immense delight to work with Kohli, Kirsten maintained that he is looking forward to seeing how Kohli continues his progress.
“It is great to be working with Virat together again because he started when I was the coach. We had a lot of conversations early in his career about how he needs to set up his game. We knew he was going to be a great player, it was just a question of when he was going to get there. How he needed to play to be able to achieve the consistency in his game. A lot of those conversations have in many ways given him some of the thinking around how he needs to build his game. That has been fun. To come back and start working with him again, to see how he is going, we are just kind of building that relationship again. I am really enjoying it,” Wisden India quoted Kirsten saying.
“Any guy with half a cricket eye would have known that he was going to be a great player,” he continues. “His hunger for runs, his ball-striking ability – we are talking 2008; he hit the ball to all parts of the ground, he had natural power. He had all the makings of a great player in terms of ball-striking ability and talent. And then, the determination to go with it. The hunger to be great. It was all there. That’s one of the easier recruitments you could make, that was not going to be difficult to work out. I wouldn’t be only one who would have seen that, I think everyone would have seen that,” the South African added.
Looking ahead at the future Kirsten expressed delight and said, “We know what he is now and what he looks like. It has been an amazing natural progression. Importantly for him now, as he moves into this next phase – he has gone from the prodigious talent to the high performer. The challenge now is to maintain that for a long period of time, to grow his leadership base, and he is doing that because I think it is an ongoing process. He seems to be in a space where he is really willing to take on the learning that needs to be taken, like we all need to in whatever phase we are in our lives. Take the learning on board to get even better.”
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