Gary Kirsten born on 23 November 1967 in Cape Town, left handed opening batsman of South Africa (1993 – 2004) accepted the challenge to be a coach of Indian Cricket Team in 2008. He is considered as a key factor to bring a major change in Indian Cricket. He is instrumental in helping Indian Cricket Team to achieve No. 1 spot in Test Cricket, No. 2 spot in ODI’s and winning 2011 ICC World Cup amongst many other feathers to add to Indian Cricket.
As Gary Kirsten bids adieu to Indian cricket after three glorious years as her coach and making it a great power in World Cricket, his simple yet powerful style of coaching impressed me as a Trainer. I tried to list out Five Lessons (out of many) which I can learn as a Mentor, Coach, Trainer or Teacher from this great coach who has proved himself with the results. He has showed a “Clearly visible Performance Improvement” in all the players and together as a Team.
There is no doubt that in 2010, prior to the start of India's tour of South Africa, Indian captain M.S. Dhoni described him as "The best thing to happen to Indian cricket."
(1) Understand the Needs:
He confirmed the job as Indian Coach on 4th December 2007 and officially started on 1st March 2008. However, he travelled to Australia with Indian Team beforehand during the test series just to spend time with Indian cricket team and to observe and understand them. His first full series in charge was against his home country, South Africa in March–April 2008 which was drawn 1-1.
I understand that as a Trainer it’s how far you understand your trainees & the organization and also their NEEDS. It’s not about delivering the content, making powerful presentation but to make it relevant and useful to them. It’s about hitting at the right spot to bring about the desired change. Gary did the same and spent time to understand Indian Cricket and Indian Players.
It’s not about how much you know and what you want to do, buts it’s about how far you are able to connect with your trainees and help them improve themselves.
(2) Be a Catalyst:
Gary has proved that the role of a coach is just to act a CATALYST. In one of his column’s Gary expressed his views: “As a coaching staff, our role was to create a positive environment in which they could do their work.”
Instead of just solving their problems, he made them analyse their own problems and let them arrive at a solution by themselves. This encourages thinking and makes sure that everyone is involved in the process. Everyone feels it is something they suggested or want to do and this helps to raise self belief and everyone feels that they are contributing towards team’s success.
Amit Gupta in Mumbai Mirror (Gary On, Coach) wrote: “He did not try to coach them but instead helped them understand their game better. And the results are there to be seen.”
Let us involve our trainees in the process rather than bombarding them with what we know. Let Learning be a discovery for them.
(3) Be Simple:
When MiD DAY asked Sunil Gavaskar about Gary he said “I guess it was the low-key approach and a sense that he was there to help them develop as cricketers and progress as humans.”
Gary Kirsten’s style of working was very simple yet very effective. He was always away from lime light not shouting about his extraordinary strategies. Rather he used very simple style of working in the background and really helping the cricketers to excel. Ultimately it is the improvement in the performance that is evident on the field that matters to the trainees and the organisation.
Many so called “Trainers” and “Management Gurus” portray & project themselves as larger than life personalities. They try to impress people with their aroma and style. Let us be simple and make the trainees great by their performances. It is not how great you are as a Trainer but more important is how great you can make others.
(4) Build Relationship:
When Dale Williams asked about the strategy Gary and Paddy Upton (his associate) expressed “Our COACHING strategy was then to build RELATIONSHIPS and trust, to get to know players and understand the Indian way. We asked questions and listened more than speaking, enquiring about players’ families, their past and the things that were important to them. Only with their trust could we have any influence.”
Let us learn as a Trainer to build relationship with our trainees by really caring for their growth. Like a father takes care of his son a Trainer needs to help his trainees. Gary took his team into confidence and encouraged them. He was always available, spoke common language that everyone can understand and inspired them. He always praised in public and when it was required he criticised them in private taking care of the big egos of super stars of the team and also taking care of the confidence of smaller aspiring stars.
During the celebration after winning the ICC World Cup we saw he was carried around the ground by Suresh Raina , Yusuf Pathan and Virat Kohli and praised by each and every team members that tells everything about the RESPECT and LOVE he has earned. According to me this is the best gift or reward a Trainer can get apart from his salary.
(5) Be Committed:
Tendulkar credited Gary Kirsten for India’s new found success, as the no.1 Test team in the world in one of his interviews. He said: “Gary has been instrumental in making our batters play a plenty of deliveries in the practice session. During net practice, he himself bowls thousands and thousands of balls. He is really putting a lot of effort.”
His work ethic and his commitment are visible. Being away from his family (Wife and two sons) for 3 years he justified his role. He has gone extra mile above the call of duty. As a Trainer we have to be a role model. I see “TRAINERS” reaching late for their sessions on “Time Management” and talking about time punctuality. When there is a gap in what you TALK and how you WALK you can get claps for your powerful presentations but not the REAL CHANGE. The love and respect we see for Coach Gary in Indian team is because he has demonstrated what he expects from his trainees.
And finally he has said good bye to Indian team again showing his commitment for his family.
But one thing I learnt from Gray is leaving when you are on TOP. Sunil Gavaskar has rightly mentioned about him “Yes, he got it right. Better to leave when people are asking you to stay than when people are looking to kick you out.”
I salute Coach Gary Kirsten not only for what he has done for Indian Cricket but also for showing us what is Mentoring, Coaching, Training and Teaching. Above all I salute you to be a great Human Being......