There is nothing that pleases a coach more than watching someone who trained under him develop into a great player. The long hours in the nets, the focus on technique, the ups and downs – it all becomes worth it.
But former India coach Gary Kirsten, who is now the coach of South Africa, will probably have mixed feelings about watching Virat Kohli’s progress given that his team run into India on Tuesday.
When Kirsten was leaving for South Africa after quitting as India coach, Kohli was yet to play his first Test for India. He was a fledgling who was just learning to fly; a consistent young cricketer with great potential.
“Virat Kohli is ready for Test cricket. He is a bright young star. He has taken the responsibility of playing for India in big games really well. I think it's important to have competitiveness to be in the Indian team. You cannot be in the team with average performances,” Kirsten had then said.
But while Kirsten was coaching South Africa to the number one spot in Tests, ODIs and T20, Kohli set about fulfilling that potential. He had a few hiccups along the way – he was dropped after the Tests in West Indies where he scored just 76 runs in 3 Tests at an average of 15.20.
“I probably started thinking too much about Test cricket, thinking it’s a huge, huge change. Maybe I shouldn't have and should have been more relaxed,” Kohli said in an interview to Cricinfo.
The 23-year-old right-hander didn’t lose hope but came back strongly during the England series to show that he has learned from the experience. A brilliant 107 during the ODIs set the tone and the youngster hasn’t looked back since.
A dismal start to the Tests in Australia was followed by a moment of awakening at Perth when he scored a valiant 44 – the highest score for India as they were bowled out for 161. That started off a run of scores that has been the envy of the world.
Kirsten is part of that admiring group and he couldn’t be any prouder.
“He is a great player, we've always known that. He is probably one of the standout batsmen in the world at the moment because of what he is capable of doing. He is one of those X-factor cricketers that any team has to get out because he ain't going to get out himself,” said Kirsten at the South Africa team practice today.
“You don't give your wicket away (when you are playing like this), he’s not going to do that. I am pleased for Virat, he’s worked really hard on his game. He’s showing that he is one of the premier batsmen in the world today.”