'As a player I had always wanted to win the WC'
It was time to bid farewell.
And Gary Kirsten arrived very much on time, for his final interaction with the fourth estate before he boards a flight back home.
The South African had announced his decision of not intending to continue after the World Cup, citing personal reasons, and Team India had ensured him a perfect send off by winning cricket's flagship event.
On his final assignment in the Indian blazer, Kirsten was palpably emotional. Asked where he would put the recent success, his answer was very much on expected lines.
"I think right at the top of the pile," he said.
The South African albeit went on to explain his opening statement.
"As a player I had always wanted to win the World Cup but it never happened. So the second best thing was to do it as a coach," Kirsten said.
Image: India's outgoing coach Gary Kirsten
'Used my reference as player to understand and mould players'
When he took over the charge of the Indian team, in March 2008, Kirsten was a novice as far as coaching was concerned.
In the three years that followed, the South African achieved a lot with the Indian team (see box below). And on Tuesday he left as India's most successful coach ever, having guided the team to the No.1 ranking in Tests and that elusive second world title amongst others.
Asked to describe his experience as India's coach, the South African was categorical.
"I think it was an interesting thing to take up coaching. I used my reference point as a player to understand how to mould players," he explained.
"I had played with some of these players during the course of my career and had gained their respect. That helped build the trust," he added.
Image: Gary Kirsten
'Man management is most important aspect of coaching'
Kirsten was also very categorical about what a coach needs to do to succeed, something he had learnt over the last three years.
"Technical aspect is just 10 per cent of a coach's job. I believe man management is the most important aspect," he said.
"It is about working with what the players have got," he added.
Regarding the course the team took en route to their world title, Kirsten seemed to be in agreement with Sachin Tendulkar. (The Master Blaster had said the team peaked at the right time a day earlier.)
"We didn't have an easy tournament, except maybe the opening match against Bangladesh," admitted the 43-year-old, adding, "Even in matches against Ireland and the Netherlands, it was difficult for us.
"I guess that helped us get battle hardened for the latter stages.
"We were playing 60 per cent but still winning matches. We stepped up the gear though against Australia in the quarter-finals. From 60 percent, we went moved up to about 80-90 per cent."
Image: Yuvraj Singh celebrates with coach Gary Kirsten
Photographs: Getty Images
'I see no reason why this team shouldn't continue succeeding'
Having achieved the desired objective and ending his Indian sojourn, Kirsten admitted his successor won't have it easy.
"It is going to be tough for the new coach to replicate the standards set by this team," he said.
"But I see no reason why this team shouldn't continue succeeding. The foundation is set," he added.
The South African was again categorical regarding what his successor needs to do to succeed.
"The challenge for the new coach is to get the Indian players to respond," said Kirsten, adding, "He shouldn't try and emulate what has been going on for the last three years."
Image: Gary Kirsten with Indian cricket team
'Sachin enjoying his cricket more than ever before'
Having achieved everything he had set out to, Kirsten ensured he left lasting imprints in the hearts of every Indian. He also ensured Tendulkar finally was able to be a part of a World Cup winning side, in six attempts.
The Master Blaster had a day earlier declared he had no intention of leaving the game any time soon. Asked to react on the statement, the South African flashed a smile.
"I have left the team with (Sachin) Tendulkar enjoying his cricket more than ever before," he quipped.
It was a perfect parting shot.
Image: Gary Kirsten and Sachin Tendulkar