PUNE: Gary Kirsten is a firm believer in catering to the market. He has no hesitation in accepting the demands of T20 cricket. At the same time, he sticks to the thought that cricket is a contest between the bat and ball and all efforts should be made to restore this balance.
“Pitches that help bowlers take care of this element in Test cricket. But in shorter formats, the boundaries need to be longer and bats should be downsized,” the coach of India’s 2011 World Cup-winning team told TOI on Friday as he announced the launch of his cricket academy in Pune. “You can’t allow mishits to go for fours and sixes.”
The marketing world, though, believes that spectators throng the stadium for IPL to watch boundaries. Hence, Kirsten’s suggestion is likely to fall on deaf ears.
How about making six or seven wickets down as all out? Or reducing a fixed number of runs from the team and individuals’ total after a wicket is lost? In both cases, the number of boundaries won’t get affected. Kirsten didn’t seem too excited with the above ideas. “I haven’t thought about it,” he said, hinting that this was far more complicated than his idea of long boundaries and ‘human’ bats.
What is cricket’s biggest challenge? “Relevance,” said the 50-year-old former South Africa opening batsman. “The franchise cricket is attracting more attention than traditional forms from all the stakeholders of the game. The challenge is to embrace new values without losing out on traditional wisdom. The IPL is successful because it caters to the market of instant gratification. It’s fast, rewarding, exciting and entertaining.”
Kirsten wasn’t too eager to talk about India’s refusal to play a day/night Test on the Australia tour later this year. He also didn’t react to the perception that the BCCI wields its financial power on the international forum without looking at the larger picture. But he differed with former England captain Bob Willis who said India captain Virat Kohli should not be allowed to play county cricket for Surrey since that will help him prepare for the England series.
Though Kirsten enjoyed success during his three years as India coach, his IPL stint with Delhi Daredevils has been a humbling experience (just seven wins in 28 matches of 2014 and 2015). Now, he wears the hat of RCB mentor.