LAHORE: Confirming previous media reports, the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) has officially named former Australian fast bowler Jason Gillespie as the Test coach and ex South African batter Gary Kirsten as the white-ball coach of the national side for a tenure of two years.

The announcement was made at a press conference featuring PCB chairman Mohsin Naqvi, accompanied by chief operating officer Salman Naseer and former all-rounder Azhar Mahmood, who has been appointed as assistant coach for both the red and white ball teams of Pakistan.

Kirsten, currently serving as the batting coach for the Gujrat Titans in the Indian Premier League (IPL), is expected to join the Pakistan camp after the conclusion of his IPL commitments.

Although the cash-rich tournament’s final is slated for May 26, Kirsten’s team’s last league match is scheduled for May 16, potentially enabling his early integration with the Pakistan team in England.

Kirsten’s responsibilities extend beyond the upcoming T20 World Cup and other bilateral white-ball series. He will also lead the team in the next year’s Champions Trophy, T20 Asia Cup and the 2026 T20 World Cup.

“Gillespie will assume responsibilities for the ICC World Test Championship fixtures against Bangladesh (at home in August), followed by Tests against England (at home in October) and South Africa (away in December) in the 2024-25 season,” added the PCB in a press statement.

In their remarks, both Gillespie and Kirsten expressed gratitude for their appointments and outlined their visions for the team’s future success.

“I am grateful to the PCB for their faith in my abilities and giving me the honor of coaching one of the most highly-regarded and talented cricket teams in the traditional format of the sport,” Gillespie said in a statement.

Gary Kirsten, meanwhile, remarked: “It’s a tremendous honor to be entrusted with the responsibility of coaching the Pakistan men’s national team in white-ball cricket and to rejoin the international cricket arena after some time.”

Gillespie, a 49-year-old, boasts an illustrious cricket career, including coaching stints with Yorkshire County Cricket Club, Adelaide Strikers, Sussex, and South Australia.

Kirsten, 56, brings extensive coaching experience, having previously coached the Indian and South African national teams, as well as various IPL franchises.

Mohsin expressed optimism regarding Pakistan’s future prospects under the new coaching staff, aiming to elevate the team to world-class status across all formats of the game.

The PCB chief praised the national selection committee’s choices for the coaching staff, emphasising unity and merit as crucial elements for Pakistan’s future success in cricket. He extended his congratulations to Kirsten, Gillespie, and Azhar for their appointments.

Mohsin commended Azhar’s commitment to the national team, highlighting his decision to relocate from England to work with the Pakistan squad. Azhar previously served as the head coach during the recent series against New Zealand, which ended in a 2-2 draw.

Furthermore, Mohsin announced that the PCB would soon appoint new coaches for the national women’s team, emphasising equal opportunities and the promotion of women’s cricket on the international stage.

Meanwhile, Azhar emphasised the need for Pakistan to increase their average score in T20 matches to over 190, highlighting improvements in running between the wickets, fielding, and minimising extras as key areas for achieving this target.

Mohsin later announced the PCB’s will cover the medical expenses of three young cricketers injured during a tape-ball cricket match in Balochistan on Saturday.

Published in Dawn, April 29th, 2024

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