Everyone knows the stories of how Sachin Tendulkar used to wear large hats, sunglasses and even false beards in order to move around the shops of Mumbai without causing a riot. But that’s not necessary these days because he goes shopping in London and stays in his apartment there.
It’ll be interesting to see whether another member of the Indian entourage considers wearing a similar disguise at any point in the next three or four weeks. Gary Kirsten is being watched by his players and employers more closely than ever since the Proteas landed.
The BCCI have dillied and dallied for over six months about whether to offer Kirsten a contract extension. Or, if they have decided to, then they simply haven’t got around to it yet. It’s hard not to conclude that they have been taking him for granted and it’s certainly true that none of them could possibly have foreseen the possibility that South Africa, with their own coach signed up until 2012, might arrive on Indian soil without him.
Senior Proteas players, including captain Graeme Smith, would love Kirsten to be appointed. Senior figures on the executive committee, however, would appear to favour Kepler Wessels as a long-term replacement for Mickey Arthur. And it’s worth putting a few bucks on Corrie van Zyl winning enough votes, particularly if the series in India is won.
The problem for Smith – or someone whom he may ‘appoint’ – is how to approach Kirsten about his availability without embarrassing him. If Kirsten is so much as seen in conversation with anybody wearing a Protea badge then gossip will spread faster than an oil slick from a super-tanker.
Kirsten’s number-two, Paddy Upton, may provide a conduit to the coach as may the recently appointed bowling coach, Eric Simons. Both are as close as family to the India coach but, as such, are unlikely to want to distract him. At the same time, it would only be natural and normal for Kirsten to be interested in what Smith and the senior players and / or management might have to say.
The upshot around the tension may well be a kneejerk response by the BCCI to double Kirsten’s salary and ensure that, at the very least, he remains in charge of Team India until the end of the World Cup next year. Then again, Kirsten is the sort of man motivated and inspired by many different things – certainly not just money.
But if he elects to hear what Smith has to say in person and not second hand, then he may need to consider a visit to Sachin’s hotel room first to see whether he still carries any of his disguises with him. If not, the media and administrative circus that such a meeting may produce could persuade him that neither job is worth the hassle.
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