LAHORE: While Gary Kirsten, the newly appointed white-ball head coach of Pakistan, will join the national team in England on May 19, the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) for the first time has hired the services of a mental performance coach, David Reid, besides recruiting Simon Helmot as fielding coach.

Though ex-South African opener Kirsten and former Australian Test fast bowler Jason Gillespie, the red-ball head coach, were appointed on April 28, both have not physically joined the Pakistan team yet.

Kirsten is currently busy in the Indian Premier League (IPL) as mentor and batting coach of the Gujarat Titans, which will play their last match on Thursday against Sunrisers Hyderabad.

Gillespie will not be visiting Pakistan before mid-July for their home Test series against Bangladesh, which will be his first assignment.

A PCB official on the condition of anonymity said that a point was added in the PCB contract signed with Kirsten and Gillespie according to which both the coaches would work in Pakistan when the national team was not engaged in competitive cricket.

Sources said Gillespie would pay his first visit to Pakistan in mid-July. Currently, he is studying the PCB structure through the feedback being sent to him in Australia.

“Gary Kirsten will join the national men’s side in Leeds on May 19 to commence his two-year tenure as the white-ball head coach,” the PCB announced on Tuesday.

“Kirsten’s arrival will be three days prior to the start of the four-match T20I series against England at Headingley on May 22. The series will be followed by the ICC T20 World Cup in the US and Caribbean.”

Meanwhile, the appointment of New Zealand’s Reid as Pakistan team’s mental performance coach for the first time indicates that the PCB has finally accepted that the cricketers need to improve psychologically.

While Reid has been hired for the four-match T20 series in England starting on May 20 and the ICC World Cup, Australian Helmot will join the national team on May 31 just a day before the start of the global event being held jointly in the US and West Indies from June 1-29.

“The PCB, on the recommendation of the team management, has added Simon Helmot [fielding coach] and David Reid [mental performance coach] to the player support personnel for the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup 2024,” the PCB said in its media release.

“Reid will join the side on May 20, while Helmot will team up with the national side on May 31. Aftab Khan, who is presently serving the side as the fielding coach, will assume responsibilities of High Performance Coach following the arrival of Helmot,” the PCB statement added.

Kirsten in his comments said he was excited to work with Pakistan in order to contribute to their success.

“I’m truly excited to embark on this new journey with the Pakistan men’s cricket team. It’s an honor to coach such a talented and dynamic team, and I’m eager to contribute to their success on the international stage,” the 56-year-old Kirsten said.

“These are indeed thrilling times for Pakistan cricket, with a new administration and players who are driven to deliver solid results.

“The upcoming ICC Men’s T20 World Cup presents a fantastic opportunity for us to showcase our skills and uphold Pakistan’s legacy as a formidable force in cricket.

“However, success will require collective effort, meticulous planning and unwavering support for one another. With 19 other teams vying for the title, we must consistently outperform our rivals to realise our aspirations,” he further said.

Commenting on the appointment of Reid, PCB chairman Mohsin Naqvi said the Board was committed towards protecting and developing mental well-being of the players.

“Ensuring the mental health and well-being of our elite cricketers is not just a priority, but a fundamental commitment,” Mohsin said.

Published in Dawn, May 15th, 2024

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