Kolkata, Nov 29 (UNI) Indian skipper Anil Kumble today said irrespective of whether South African Gary Kirsten coaches India or not, he had great respect for him as a player and his skills.
Asked how he rated Kirsten as Indian coach, Kumble said, ''I think there is still a little time. But irrespective of that he is a great player. I have played against him and he was one of the most successful players of the 90s.'' ''I especially admire his batting skills and his ability to be a part of such a high performing South African side.
In a team of South Africa's stature that was world class then also, to sustain that needed great skills,'' he added.
''He will know how to handle pressure and be apart of a big squad,'' Kumble pointed out.
Kirsten, the former South African opener, was the surprise front-runner to be India's next coach. While the Indian board said Kirsten was interviewed by the coach selection committee on Monday and a formal announcement on the new coach would be made in a week's time, some senior officials said what remained was a formality.
Kirsten has not only been a prolific batsman of his era, but also a coach with a Level-3 certificate and part of South Africa's high performance coaching job.
Kirsten, a left-handed opening batsman, played 101 Tests and 185 One-Day Internationals for South Africa in an 11- year career that ended in 2004.
His unbeaten 188 against United Arab Emirates at Rawalpindi on February 16, 1996, is a South African record for the highest individual innings, and he was the first batsman in Test annals to post a century against all nine countries.