Inspired by Woolmer, 'thick-skinned' Kirsten ready to take on Pakistan challenge

Pakistan's new white-ball coach Gary Kirsten He may not have joined the team in person yet, but he already seems to be preparing for the magnitude of the challenge. Talk to talkSPORTKirsten said there was no doubt about the talent of the Pakistan team, but also hinted at the problems he had already spotted.

“Everyone always talks about watching some of these players play on a given day and being fascinated by their abilities,” he said while speaking to former England fast bowler Steve Harmison and broadcaster Neil Manthorp . “But the little time I spent in remote contact with the team, you can very quickly understand what the potential blockages are. And I suppose that's my role as a coach, to help unleash the natural abilities they have.”

Kirsten, who takes over at a time of flux both on and off the field in Pakistani cricket, said it was natural to expect negativity, suggesting that the ripple effects of poor results on the field seep into every aspect of the game.

After a poor ODI World Cup, Pakistan lost 3-0 in the Tests against Australia and 4-1 in the T20Is in New Zealand. Then, against a weakened New Zealand side, Pakistan managed only a 2-2 draw before beating Ireland 2-1 this week.

During this time, Babar Azam was sacked as captain and replaced by Shaheen Shah Afridi, only for Afridi to be replaced by Babar a few weeks later. Off the field, Mickey-Arthur was removed from his position as team manager with Mohamed Hafeez he has served in this role in Australia and New Zealand, while there have been three different PCC chairs in the last year.

“I've been around the coaching circuit enough to know that in almost any non-winning team environment there will be factions. The fact is that this might be even more highlighted in certain cultures and environments The one thing about being a coach for over 20 years now is that you get a little thicker skin and that's the one thing I've learned. Bob [Woolmer]Besides.

“He had a very thick skin at the end of his coaching career. Because you just try to do the best you can, accepting the fact that when the team is not doing well there will always be a whole lots of problems. critical.”

“My children are a little older now, which makes traveling a little easier, and working with an international team like Pakistan was very appealing to me.”

Kirsten's time in India should, in theory at least, prepare him for the administrative challenges of working with a cricket board in South Asia, and the wisdom of accepting that his powers will inevitably be limited. “I think what I learned in my three years with India is that there are certain battles that you absolutely will not win. And then you just focus on the ones that you can win , and I hope that will be enough for the team to do really well.

“It's really important that you build relationships upwards. You have to work well with the people on the upper floor and within the confines of the board, and hopefully build a decent relationship so that they also agree with your thinking.”

Kirsten on Babar: “It's not fair to depend on one player”

The most obvious example is the controversial debate around captain Babar and his best use in the shortest format. Kirsten highlighted her recent innings against Ireland – a winning 42-ball 75 – saying one of his goals was to find Babar the space to play with that kind of freedom more frequently.

“He [dependence on Babar] It's not fair to any player,” Kirsten said. “He shouldn't feel like he has to contribute to a team all the time. I have been in contact with Babar. He's doing remarkably well and carrying much of the team's weight on his shoulders. What we're going to try to do as a coach is elevate that a little bit and realize that he's just one player in a whole group and he can free himself up to play with his natural talent.

“I hope we see a lot more [the Ireland innings] a sort of move on his part. I think if we can unleash that freedom and understand that there is a big group of guys who can make match-winning contributions, especially in T20 cricket, it will take a lot of pressure off him.

Since Kirsten was appointed coach alongside Jason Gilespie – who will serve as coach of the Test team – Pakistan played a three-match T20I series against Ireland, which they won 2-1. Kirsten was not physically with the team during the series due to previous IPL commitments, but will join the England team when the two teams play four T20Is before the T20 World Cup.

“I got a phone call while I was at the IPL and they asked me if I was interested. I'm always interested in international work. It's always a huge privilege to be a coach in this area I haven't done any work overseas I've worked internationally since I coached South Africa towards the end of 2013. My kids are a bit older now. which makes traveling a little easier, and working with an international team like Pakistan was very attractive to me.”

State of Test cricket 'worries me deeply'

During Kirsten's two-year contract, Pakistan will participate in three ICC white-ball events: the upcoming T20 World Cup, the 2025 Champions Trophy in Pakistan and the 2026 T20 World Cup in India and Sri Lanka. And while he certainly has his sights set on winning one of the three events, Kirsten said he is not in favor of the ICC tournaments coming quickly.

“Sometimes I worry about the lack of context in many matches. But does that mean we have to have an ICC event every year? No, I think it could be dangerous to have a World Cup every year or another year because it's always fun waiting for these events to happen.

“And we have to be very careful not to lose Test cricket. The fact that Test playing countries like South Africa play four Tests a year worries me deeply – to think that Test cricket is not is not so important anymore.”

Danyal Rasool is the Pakistan correspondent for ESPNcricinfo. @Danny61000

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