Former India coach Gary Kirsten had some words of advice for the incumbent Ravi Shastri, who has seen his team concede the three-Test series in South Africa with a match still to play.
The South African chose not to be very specific but said that coaches can help prevent unforced errors from the players. India were undone in Centurion with three run-outs over two innings and as many as seven dropped catches.
In an interview with Mumbai Mirror, Kirsten said, “The coach’s role is to highlight the consequence of making an unforced error of that nature and what a bearing it can have on the outcome of the game. This needs to be a frequent reminder.”
The 50-year-old also advised on how to take catches, saying the players have to simulate catching under pressure.
Kirsten’s comment about preventing unforced errors also rings true when it comes to team selection. India have made some contentious selection calls in the series. Ajinkya Rahane, arguably India’s best overseas batsman, hasn’t played at all so far, while the tourists’ best bowler at Newlands, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, was dropped for the Centurion Test.
Shastri had defended India captain Virat Kohli’s selection calls and although Kirsten did not want to get dragged into the debate, he did hint at who he would have picked between Rahane and Rohit Sharma. “I’m not sure what the right selection is but to be successful in South Africa requires a certain type of technique and resilience,” Kirsten said. “Those types of players are crucial in South Africa.”
Kirsten also said that India missed a trick by not playing an extra batsman in both Tests. “Batting is traditionally tough in the South African conditions, so the more the batsmen the better [it is],” he said. “I have always believed that a Test match team should contain as many specialists as possible in it.”
Despite India’s top-order batting failure, but for Kohli’s century at Centurions, Shastri had chosen to focus on the fact that India had managed to take 20 wickets in both Tests. Kirsten, however, said that was not enough. “Whilst taking 20 wickets allows a team to win games, scoring enough runs will always keep a team in the game,” he said.
Kirsten called for the best thinkers in Indian cricket, especially those who had succeeded in overseas conditions, to come together “and build a preparation plan” to get players ready to play abroad.