Kirsten calls for patience

Saturday, 20 August 2011

Gary Kirsten admits the expectation placed on him has been tough and has pleaded with the South African public to give him time to get the national team in proper order ahead of a tough summer.
Kirsten was appointed national coach in July and while he has comfortably re-attuned himself to life back in South Africa, he already feels the pressure building as to how he can improve the SA side.
“There is some expectation that I have the ability to take the team to the next level. It’s probably a bit uncalled for to be honest, because at the end of the day we’ve got a long process ahead,” Kirsten said on Friday.
Kirsten, who coached India for three years during which they became Test cricket’s No1 team and won the World Cup, believes the SA side needs to be cut some slack.
“We’ve got to set our goals and if we achieve those, it’s a job well done. This is not a quick fix, this takes time.
“So I’ve got to start that process, understand the individuals, understand the team, remembering, and people seem to have forgotten this in South Africa, because of the disappointment of one event, this is a serious cricket team, a high performing cricket team.
“I understand people’s disappointment around the World Cup, the players understand it too, but we mustn’t separate the other performances; the fact that they have lost only one Test series in their last 16 puts them in touch with India. India is the only team to have done that in the last three years.”
As good as that record is however, Kirsten is well aware that South Africa haven’t won a Test series at home since beating Bangladesh in 2008.
“In performance, if we can have a 10-15 percent tinkering in how we set up our culture, hopefully that will lead to the 10 or 15 percent improvement in how we perform, because that’s what we want. If we are 10-15 percent better, then we will become the best cricket team in the world.
“(The SA team is) always competitive, shows high intensity on the field, has great fast bowling and fantastic batting. You never feel you have beaten the South African team – if you beat South Africa, you’ve got to have been on top of your game.
“We must continue that – we must be a very difficult team to beat. If we are to be beaten then the opposition must have played really well.”
Though he’s had informal talks with a few of the players since his appointment, Kirsten gets his first opportunity for a proper team gathering from Monday.
“It’s going to be an important camp just from a connection point of view. The season’s a bit disjointed because of the Champions League, and I would have liked to have had more time with the team before a very tough series with Australia, but that’s the landscape and we have to move with that.”
Kirsten said that the camp wouldn’t be as much about nets but about players’ expectations for the season and beyond.
“It’s about sitting down in a coffee shop and understanding what the player wants from me as a coach.
“I’ve asked them two questions: How can I help you have the best three years of your cricket career? And how can we set up this environment so that this is the happiest environment that we’ve had?”
South Africa start their international season against Australia on October 13 with a T20 International at Newlands, four days after the Champions League T20 final in India. They’ll play another T20 and three ODIs before tackling the Australians in two Tests.
*Cricket SA and SA Breweries on Friday announced the expansion of the latter’s sponsorship deal with the federation which sees them take on the sponsorship rights of both the Test and ODI teams.
The deal will run for the next four years.


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