A captain is only as good as his team. And a coach is only as competent as the captain and the team. Gary Kirsten's coaching abilities have been discussed widely and now Sunil Gavaskar reveals he had spotted Kirsten, who not having coached any State or the country, was not on the circuit to display his coaching ability.
A brief interaction with Kirsten convinced Gavaskar that Kirsten was the man for Indian cricket. Now that his home country is keen to have Kirsten back, some of the Indian players, including captain Dhoni, have voiced their opinion of retaining Kirsten even after the World Cup.
Although there is no evidence of improvement of technique in some of the youngsters who have been with Kirsten, by and large he got the team to perform as a unit. While Kirsten was a superb player of fast bowling, especially short stuff, neither Yuvraj Singh nor Suresh Raina seem to give you the confidence that they can play a session against the present pace attack at the international level.
Not that Kirsten hasn't been trying to get their stance right in the nets, but the fact remains that these two players are an ideal case study for a coach's seminar on how not to play fast bowling.
The pressure of an international series tests the technique and temperament of the players. That the combination of Dhoni and Kirsten managed to win many close encounters despite Dhoni losing the toss indicates the role of fate and the cordial atmosphere in the dressing room.
Many battles are lost in the dressing room when a coach and his captain don't see eye to eye.
No one has ever doubted former England coach Peter Moores's technical ability in strategising moves as a coach, but he failed to carry captain Kevin Pietersen with him and lost his job. In fact Pietersen who was hailed as the most aggressive captain by the English media before the West Indies tour was not spared by the same media when England struggled.
And how can one leave out Greg Chappell's example. The who's who of Indian cricket had unanimously dubbed him the revolutionary who would change the face of Indian cricket. Unlike other coaches Chappell spelt out his policies and expected the captain to fall in line. The problem was that he expected Sourav Ganguly to toe the line, with which Ganguly didn't agree.
Having done well as a captain Ganguly needed a coach to concur with his ideas because he had very successfully built the combination required to implement his strategies. He had moulded the likes of Virender Sehwag, Harbhajan Singh, Zaheer Khan and Yuvraj and was the skipper of a well-oiled team.
All that he expected of Chappell was to fine-tune their technique. Chappell adopted a tough stance that shook the confidence of these players and when Chappell belittled Ganguly's stature, the morale of the team cracked. It was more of a rebellion than a revolution that Indian cricket went through during the Chappell era.
Kirsten seemed to have studied and analysed the methodology of his predecessors and adopted the middle path. In the complex social, religious and cultural dynamics of India, no two players can have the same mental make-up and there's a different prescription required.
More than anything Kirsten and his colleagues got their morale to stay high so that Dhoni could get all the players to go in one direction.