Winning World Cup is within India's reach, says former coach Gary Kirsten

India's World Cup Triumph Within Reach, Says Former Coach Gary Kirsten
 Gary Kirsten
Gary Kirsten

Cape Town | Former India coach Gary Kirsten, who was at the helm when the team last won a World Cup back in 2011, believes that the current side has what it takes to bring home another trophy very soon.

The South African and the then India skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni became the toast of the nation in 2011 when the side claimed its second ODI World Cup after 1983. But the title, across formats, has eluded India for over a decade now.

The latest heartbreak came in last year's 50-over showpiece in which Rohit Sharma's men were outwitted in the final in Ahmedabad by six-time champions Australia.

"I don't think it is easy to win a World Cup, it is really tough. Probably Australia mastered that better than any other country but India has the potential to compete at the highest level for World Cup success and glory due to depth in its cricket," Kirsten, who was India's coach from 2008 to 2011, told PTI-Bhasha in an interview.

"I wouldn't be surprised if they secure a few victories soon," he added.

When asked if India can break the jinx at the upcoming T20 World Cup this year, Kirsten said it is not improbable if India can figure a way to make things right in the knockout games.

He did not, however, specify what exactly the team would need to do.

"Undoubtedly winning the World Cup is within India's reach and they have the players who are capable of doing that. But there is still a lot that needs to be right to win a World Cup especially those knock-out games where anything can happen," said the 56-year-old.

Talking about the general state of the game, the veteran of 185 ODIs with 6798 runs said that context is needed to keep ODI cricket alive.

"I love the three and four teams tournaments but I am just worried that sometimes bilateral series become irrelevant. I would love to see a world champion ODI team every year.

"That would be fun, maybe on the (basis of a) point system or the way they can set it up but I think contest is everything," he said.

"We have just finished a fantastic World Cup in India that captured the imagination of many. I was also there to watch a couple of games and it was very exciting," said the former opener.

On the "club vs country" debate that has gripped cricket ever since the advent of IPL, Kirsten said franchise cricket is giving a platform to those who will not get a chance represent their country and should not be dragged into such debates.

"It is not easy to represent your country. Now new players have an opportunity to represent their franchise so that pulls their aspirations. To give them the opportunity to play professional Cricket, despite not being able to play international cricket, is very important for a lot of young players," said the veteran coach.

Citing the example of ongoing SA 20 league in his country, Kirsten said that franchise-based leagues are very important to keep the game alive at the grassroots level.

"The SA 20 is very important to keep the game alive in this country. Cricket is being played around the world so these leagues play a very important role economically," he pointed out.

"They also pull aspirations into the cricket system. Like when kids go to watch league matches and see their heroes play there, they also get inspired to be like one of them," he said.

The Gujarat Titans mentor declined comment when asked if was open to the idea of coaching the Indian team again.

"I come to India every year and I love it. I am about to go for my eighth IPL season and I enjoy working with the Gujarat Titans.

"Ashish Nehra (head coach) is a close mate and we just enjoy working in that Cricket environment together. Vikram Solanki (Director of Cricket) is also there," said Kirsten.

"It would be a great honour to be offered a job at the national level but I am not sure about that. But yes, I always enjoy going back to India (for IPL)." He is full of praise for the new Gujarat captain Shubman Gill and said he admires his eagerness to grow. Gill struck a hundred in the ongoing second Test against England in Visakhapatnam, ending a prolonged run of poor form in the format.

"Shubman is one of the best players. 900 plus runs in the last IPL season, not many can do that...I just love the way he wants to keep growing and developing his game.

"Looking forward to having him as a captain. He is a smart guy and will enjoy his captaincy," he said.

Kirsten is also kept busy by his Catch Trust foundation, which was started nine years back to address the inequality in access to sporting opportunities for kids in South Africa.

"In 2014, I came out here after coaching in India. I wanted to have a look at cricket in our poorest neighbourhood in Cape town. There was no cricket happening then here. So, I started training young kids to give them opportunities to pursue their dreams," he said.

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