Gary Kirsten was Virat Kohli’s first international coach and one of the players thhe South African had pickeed to be the next big star of the Indian team that then had Sachin Tendulkar, Virender Sehwag, Rahul Dravid and other big names.
Years later, the two have been reunited by the Royal Challengers Bangalore in the Indian Premier League. Kohli has become the great player that Kirsten expected him to be. Perhaps greater.
“It has been an amazing natural progression. As he moves into this next phase - he has gone from the prodigious talent to the high performer,” Kirsten told The Times of India.
“The challenge is to maintain consistency for a long period of time, to grow his leadership base,” he addded.
Fresh from his success as an Under-19 World Cup winning captain, Kohli made his international debut 10 years ago and soon became a prominent member of the team. Kirsten said he had no doubt about Kohli’s potential even back then.
“Any guy with half a cricket eye would have known that he was going to be a great player. His hunger for runs, his ball-striking ability - we are talking 2008 - he hit the ball to all parts of the ground, got natural power and then the determination to go with it. He had the hunger to be great. It was all there. That’s one of the easier recruitments you could make,” the former India coach said.
To work with Kohli again, now one of the best cricketers in the world, has the South African very excited.
“It is great to be working with Virat again because he started when I was the coach. We had a lot of conversations early in his career about how he needs to set up his game. We knew he was going to be a great player, it was just a question of when and how he needed to play to be able to achieve the consistency in his game,” he said.
How this partnership works out for RCB remains to be seen, givene the team’s rough start to the IPL. But for Kohli, it is a chance to use Kirsten’s expertise and get the one trophy he has narrowly missed several times.