Kirsten interested in England Test coach role without white-ball commitments

·3-min read

Gary Kirsten has declared his interest in coaching England's beleaguered Test team, with Chris Silverwood in the firing line after disappointing in the Ashes.

Current England coach and selector Silverwood has come under scrutiny after defeat to Australia, with the tourists already down and out at 3-0 in the series with two Tests left to play.

The former India and South Africa coach Kirsten, who led both of those sides to the top of the red-ball rankings, has twice been linked with the England role and is likely to be a favoured candidate again should Silverwood depart.

Former Proteas opener Kirsten expressed his interest in the job but insisted he would only take charge of the red-ball side if Eoin Morgan's dominant white-ball team would be coached by someone else.

"Listen, it [the England job] is always a consideration because it's a tremendous honour," Kirsten told iNews.

"I've walked this journey twice now [when England recruited new coaches in 2015 and 2019] and I've always made it clear that I would never commit to doing all formats.

"And when international cricket boards get their head around the fact that they need to split coaching roles, then it becomes a consideration.

"Working with a Test side, or working with an ODI side is great. Listen, the England ODI side is set up, you're the best ODI side in the world at the moment.

"It's a project that has been well thought-out. You've got consistency in the players that have been picked. Your Test side has battled for a while, but it would be a really lovely project to get that going."

Indeed, the 54-year-old was a frontrunner to replace Trevor Bayliss when he parted ways with England in 2019 before Silverwood was eventually appointed as the Australian's successor.

Kirsten, who has previously built formidable Test sides with both India and South Africa, could be sensing another great rebuild should Silverwood be given his marching orders in the wake of another Ashes hammering.

"Interestingly, when I finished with India and I joined South Africa, we just looked at it and said 'our priority has to be Test match cricket'," he added. "I actually said to the CEO of Cricket South Africa that I was happy to just do the Test side because I felt it should be the number one side in the world.

"It had all the credentials to do that. The issue is that the different formats have the potential to cannibalise teams. You focus too much attention on one format and the other format takes the hit.

"It's not easy to get everything right. Look at Australia, they're now using a lot of players across the different formats.

"It [England] is an interesting one. I think it's a great project for someone to come in and take that Test side on. There's a lot that needs to be put in place to build this Test team out."

Kirsten is already on the ECB's payroll, having worked with the Welsh Fire in the inaugural Hundred competition, where conversations with some key figures surprised him as to the uncertainties and deficiencies within the English game.

"When I was over there I asked a number of coaches and players who their top six would be for the England Test side – and I never got the same answer from anyone," he continued.

"That's a good illustration of the issue you have. If you don't know what your top six is, or really have no idea of the best six batsmen in the country, then how can build consistency around guys who are going to come in and, when needed, make a play?"

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