England’s Test captain and vice-captain have both backed Gary Kirsten’s credentials to be England’s new head coach.
South African Kirsten has been touted as favourite to succeed Trevor Bayliss and has reportedly met with the England and Wales Cricket Board to discuss the role, and now both Ben Stokes and Joe Root have given some support to the idea.
The 51-year-old guided India to 2011 World Cup glory before leading his home country to the top of the Test rankings the following year, and has also coached in the Indian Premier League and Australia’s Big Bash.
Speaking at the Professional Cricketers’ Association Awards, where he unsurprisingly scooped the big gong, vice-captain Stokes said: “I’ve seen Gary Kirsten’s name has been thrown about – he’s got a great record as a coach and, from what I’ve heard, he’s a brilliant man to have around the changing room.
“He’s very experienced in what he does, he’s done franchise competitions, he’s done a couple of international teams as well.
“It’s not going to be too new to him, it will be just a new country, if he ends up getting the job.
“Good luck following Trevor Bayliss is all I’ve got to say!”
ECB director of cricket Ashley Giles is tasked with appointing Bayliss’ replacement after the Australian’s four-year reign came to an end following the drawn Ashes series.
Kirsten has not coached on the international circuit since leaving the Proteas in 2013 due to unrelenting schedules and time away from home.
Captain Root has had no involvement in the recruitment process and feels Giles has a tricky call to make, with Graham Ford, Chris Silverwood, Graham Thorpe and Alec Stewart among the other reported candidates.
The 28-year-old Yorkshire batsman described Kirsten as “a very accomplished all-round coach”.
“I am in a similar position to you, I don’t really know what the stance is or what’s been going on, it’s nothing to do with me and I’ve tried to stay as far away from it as I can,” Root said.
“In terms of Gary, he’s obviously had a fantastic time of it in international cricket, he’s done some wonderful things with India and South Africa, domestically done some good stuff recently in Twenty20 cricket.
“He’s obviously a very accomplished all-round coach.
“But, as I say, all the candidates that have put their names forward have done some wonderful things in the game too. Ashley’s got a very difficult decision to make.”
Stokes, who played a starring role in England’s World Cup win and then in ensuring they salvaged a 2-2 Ashes draw with Australia, feels it is vitally important that the new man maintains current team morale.
“The culture and the atmosphere that we’ve managed to create in the changing room will have to be taken into consideration for whoever the new coach is,” said Stokes.
“We’ve created our own culture by being given the responsibility to handle it ourselves as players.
“I’m sure whoever the new coach is, they will be aware of that.”
Kirsten has also been backed for the job by his former South Africa team-mate Lance Klusener.
Klusener, appointed Afghanistan head coach last week, feels England would be getting a proven winner should Kirsten fill the vacancy.
“What is he going to bring? Loads and loads of experience,” Klusener told Stumped on the BBC World Service. “He brings winning, so that for me is vitally important.
“He’s the right man for the job. He’s one of those guys that when he does stand up and speak, people tend to listen, and he’s had that ability since I used to play with him.”
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