Kirsten would look to recruit Cook for England's Test coaching team

Gary Kirsten reveals he would look to recruit Sir Alastair Cook to help him rejuvenate England’s Test team as the ex-South Africa and India coach continues his charm offensive in bid to land under-fire Chris Silverwood’s job

  • Gary Kirsten would look to hire Sir Alastair Cook if named England’s new coach
  • Kirsten is making no secret of his desire to take over from Chris Silverwood
  • The England coach looks set to be relieved of his duties after the Ashes disaster
  • Kirsten’s claims while Silverwood is still in a job has led to raised eyebrows
  • The South African would be a strong candidate – if he has not ruined his chances

Gary Kirsten would look to recruit Sir Alastair Cook to help him build an England Test team to rise from the ashes of another thumping defeat in Australia.

The man who took both India and his native South Africa to the top of the Test rankings is making no secret of his desire to take over from Chris Silverwood once the axe inevitably falls on the England coach at the end of the Ashes.

And, in an interview with talkSPORT, Kirsten said he would waste no time in approaching ‘the best minds’ in English Test cricket to help him with the job he was overlooked for when Ashley Giles appointed Silverwood in 2019.

Gary Kirsten says it would be a ‘privilege’ to rebuild England’s Test side after their Ashes loss

Kirsten would look to recruit former England captain Sir Alastair Cook to rejuvenate the team

‘It would be a massive privilege to be offered a job of that nature,’ said the former South African opener.

‘Three years ago I was asked to come for an interview and my focus is always on the form of the game where I think the team can go to new heights.

‘It just feels there’s a great opportunity for English cricket to reset and look at what they want to do with the Test team, just as they did with the one-day side a few years ago. They have done a great job with that and that’s what’s required with the Test side.

‘The first conversation I would have with the powers that be is to make sure you have in the room the best five or six experts on the Test game in English cricket,’ continued Kirsten. ‘So for me the stand-out would be Alastair Cook.

‘He would have to be in the room to discuss the game going forward in England. There’s a lot to be encouraged about in English cricket but when I was with Welsh Fire last summer I asked coaches who their top six should be for the England side and I never got the same answer from anyone. That to me is a red flag. You have to have a settled top six.’

Chris Silverwood’s place as England head coach is under threat after their Ashes humiliation

Kirsten’s willingness to throw his hat in the ring while Silverwood is still in a job has led to raised eyebrows in the England camp.

But there is no question there will soon be a vacancy and as long as Giles decides to return to split coaches for different formats then the South African would be a strong candidate for the Test role – as long as he has not ruined his chances by speaking out at this stage. 

And Kirsten, 54, was happy to share his coaching philosophy in conversation with Neil Manthorp and Steve Harmison. ‘We need to create specialist coaches in different formats. The time has come for that,’ said Kirsten.

‘How do you define coaching? If anybody says to me “would you go in there and change them?” I’d say absolutely not but I’d certainly challenge them to be the best they can be. It’s not me presenting a new way to play cricket.

‘When I was lucky enough to work with India it wasn’t a case of telling Sachin Tendulkar he was picking the bat up the wrong way but more to challenge the way they were playing.

Test captain Joe Root has endured a humiliating Ashes tour, and there are two Tests to go

‘That’s the skill of coaching. The facilitation of every individual and “how can I make him better than he is now?” It’s not saying you’re playing the wrong way and I know the right way. But you have to make hard decisions.

‘That’s why I’m such a stickler for great technique. Why has Marnus Labuschagne been such a success in Test cricket? Because he’s got such a pure technique and has the defence to get himself out of trouble.

‘We can get too funky and think you can play the game a certain way and it will work across the formats. That’s not the case. It blows me away to think that batting at two runs an over upfront is the way to succeed in Test match cricket. It’s not. You will get found out very quickly because you can’t spend that much time at the crease without the game going forward. A strategy of just survival is not a strategy.

‘I want to see that Australian attack and look at a young English player to get excited by. To think “do you know what? He can play against the best bowlers in the world at the highest level.” We can sometimes get fooled by players who don’t have the technique because they can score a lot of runs at a lower level.’

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