- I showed it to my wife, and she said, ‘They must have the wrong person’
- No one had asked me to prepare anything for the interview.
- It took exactly seven minutes for Gary Kirsten to land the high-profile India coach's job
Former India coach Gary Kirsten recalled the “bizarre” series of events that led him to getting the top job in 2007.
Speaking on the Cricket Collective podcast, Kirsten recalled the time when Sunil Gavaskar, part of the coaching selection committee, shot him a mail asking him to consider the job, even when he had not applied for it.
He was never interested in coaching neither did he apply for the job, but it took exactly seven minutes for Gary Kirsten to land the high-profile India coach’s job back in 2007, a process set in motion by the great Sunil Gavaskar.
“I’ve got an email from Sunil Gavaskar – would I consider coaching the Indian team,” Kirsten said. “I thought it was a hoax. I never even answer it. He sent me another email, and said, ‘Will you come for an interview?’. I showed it to the wife, and she said, ‘They must have the wrong person’. So it was a bizarre entry into the whole thing, and rightly so. I mean, I had no coaching experience or anything.
“Anyway, I went for the interview, it was a bizarre experience in many ways because I kinda arrived at the interview and I see Anil Kumble, who’s the current Indian captain, and he says, ‘What are you doing here?’. I said, ‘I have come for an interview to coach you!’. So we kinda laugh about it. It was quite a laughing matter.
Even though he didn’t have any coaching experience then, Kirsten went on to become one of the most successful India coaches of all time, guiding the team to the top of the Test rankings in 2009, and then to the World Cup title two years later.
“Ten minutes later, I am in this board meeting with these BCCI officials, and it was quite an intimidating environment; the secretary of the board said, ‘Mr. Kirsten, would you like to present your vision for the future of Indian Cricket?’, and I said, ‘Well, I don’t have one.’ No one had asked me to prepare anything for it. I had just arrived there.
Ravi Shastri, who was also on the committee, said to me, ‘Gary, tell us, what did you guys as the South African team do to beat the Indians?’.
“He was suitably impressed, as was the rest of the board, because three minutes later – I had been in in the interview about seven minutes – the secretary of the board slides across a contract to me. [I] pick up the contract, and the first page, I am looking for my name frantically, and I can’t see my name, but I see Greg Chappell’s name, who was the previous coach.
“So I slide the contract back and I say, ‘Sir, I think you have given me your previous coach’s contract. He kind of looks at it a little bit perturbed, and takes out a pen from his pocket, scratches out his [Chappell] name and writes my name on it.
“Then slides the contract back. So now I have my name on the contract. The beautiful thing about that was I didn’t have a clue what I should be paid. But then, obviously, with Chappell’s package there, I thought, ‘Well, let me just keep it the same!’ I am happy with what he was getting paid. That was it.”