Pakistan Cricket Board appoints Gillespie and Kirsten as men’s head coaches

Kirsten to take charge in limited overs formats and Gillespie in Tests after months of turmoil in Pakistan cricket.

Pakistan finished fifth and failed to qualify for the semifinals in the ICC Men's Cricket World Cup 2023 in India [File: Andrew Boyers/Reuters]

Former South Africa batter and coach Gary Kirsten has been appointed head coach of the Pakistan men’s cricket team in limited overs cricket ahead of the upcoming ICC Men’s T20 World Cup 2024, while former Australia fast bowler Jason Gillespie has been appointed the head coach of the Test team.

The announcement on Sunday at the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) headquarters in Lahore follows months of turmoil at the board, where the coaching staff, captains and management went through several changes after Pakistan finished fifth at the ICC Cricket World Cup 2023 in India, failing to qualify for the semifinals.

Gillespie – who played 71 Tests and 91 one-day internationals (ODIs) – will leave his role as the coach of South Australia in his home country.

“I’m really keen for Pakistan to play our way,” Gillespie told Al Jazeera shortly before his appointment was confirmed.

The 49-year-old, nicknamed Dizzy, said he wants the team to “be authentic and genuine”.

“Let’s entertain our fans with a bit of fun and play with smiles on our faces,” Gillespie said.

Azhar Mahmood, the former Pakistan all-rounder who has been part of the coaching set-up on several occasions, will be retained as cross-format assistant coach.

Meanwhile, Kirsten, who led India to their second World Cup title in 2011 and coached South Africa’s men’s team in addition to several stints in club and franchise cricket, will take charge of the limited overs side immediately after completing his ongoing stint with the Indian Premier League (IPL) team Gujarat Titans.

Besides the upcoming T20 World Cup 2024 and other bilateral white-ball series, Kirsten will also be in charge of the side for next year’s ICC Champions Trophy 2025 in Pakistan, the T20 Asia Cup 2025 and the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup 2026 in India and Sri Lanka.

Gillespie will assume responsibilities for the ICC World Test Championship fixtures against Bangladesh (at home in August), which will be followed by Tests against England (at home in October) and South Africa (away in December) in the 2024-25 season.

Born in Sydney, New South Wales, Gillespie made his Test debut against the West Indies in 1996 becoming the first acknowledged Aboriginal descendant to represent Australia in Test cricket.

Despite suffering an injury-plagued career, Gillespie became his country’s sixth-highest wicket-taker in Tests with 259 victims at an average of 26.

Gillespie was also the bowling coach of the IPL team Kings XI Punjab before he was appointed head coach at Yorkshire, where he had spent two seasons towards the end of his playing career.

One of the finest moments for Gillespie came with the bat when he scored an unbeaten 201 against Bangladesh in the second Test in 2006. Having come in as a nightwatchman at three, the right-hander batted for 574 minutes facing 425 deliveries and helped to set up an innings and 80-run victory in the 2-0 series win, in which he claimed eight wickets and was named the player of the series.

White-ball coach Kirsten is a former South Africa top-order batter and played 101 Tests and 185 ODIs for the Proteas from 1993 to 2004.

The 56-year-old coached India from 2008 to 2011 and was instrumental in their 50-over World Cup win at home in 2011, as well as topping the ICC Test Team Rankings during his tenure.

He then moved back to his home country and coached the men’s team from 2011 to 2013 as they became the leading Test side.

Kirsten said his “primary objective” is to ensure the team operates at its “optimal level”.

“While player form fluctuations are inevitable, maintaining a stable environment is crucial,” he said in a PCB statement announcing his appointment.

“I am committed to supporting players through their ups and downs, prioritising continuity in selections whenever possible.”

Earlier this year, Grant Bradburn left as Pakistan’s head coach – two months after the 50-over World Cup in India – followed by the departures of team director Mickey Arthur and batting coach Andrew Puttick in quick succession.

Former Pakistani all-rounder Mohammad Hafeez replaced Bradburn and Arthur as head coach and team director following the team’s unsuccessful tour of Australia and New Zealand. Pakistan were whitewashed 3-0 in the Test series against world champions Australia and lost the T20 series against New Zealand 4-1.

Source: Al Jazeera