Rajput disheartened at being overlooked; Kirsten excited

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New Delhi, Nov 29 (UNI) Disappointed at being overlooked for the high-profile job of India's cricket coach, Lalchand Rajput today conceded that the move came as a bit of a surprise as he was looking forward for a longer stint with Team India.

Rajput was handed the reigns of the Indian cricket team in the Twenty20 World Cup on an interim basis and was since then doing the job on a series to series basis.

The 45-year-old said, ''I was a part of the team for the last three months. I have a very good raport with the team and with the support staff. So I was really looking forward to it. But I guess it's up to the BCCI.'' ''It is not about dissapointment but it's the hard work. Whatever you have put in, you definetly want to be rewarded. I was looking forward to a longer stint with the team,'' he added.

The former coach of Under-19 Indian cricket team during the tour of England, Rajput said that he has not yet made up his mind on his future.

''At the moment my priority is the series against Pakistan. Only after it is over will I decide my future course of action,'' Rajput told CNN IBN.

The BCCI has almost finalised the name of former South African opener Gary Kirsten as the head coach of Team India, the formalities though needs to be sorted out.

Rajput also brushed aside the suggestion of any alleged divide within the team and said, ''You have seen it in the ground, there is no senior or junior. Everybody is together and we are playing like a team.'' Winning the Twenty20 World Cup though will remain the most cherished dream for the former Indian opening batsman. ''Winning a World Cup is a dream and I will never forget the reception we got returning to India,'' Rajput said.

Rajput added that handling players like Tendulkar and Dravid was a great experience for him and he will miss that once his stint is over.

Meanwhile, Kirsten has said that he is excited about the offer, but some ''logistic issues'' needs to be sorted out before he makes a final decision.

''I need to decide now. I am interested and excited by the offer made by the BCCI. Some logistical issues need to be sorted out; such as moving my family over to that part of the world,'' he said.

Kirsten was non-committal about the exact dates from when he would be joining the team although he made it pretty clear that he is unlikely to be coaching the side on a full-time basis for the Australian tour.

''I have some long standing commitments that I need to honour through December and January and I have said that to the board. I can't be full-time available from December 17. So we are trying to figure out a contingency plan.

''We are still negotiating but it is a fact that I come at the beginning of the tour to Australia and that's once I have made the decision to sign. I will join the team at various times in the tour.

For lack of a better word like a consultant,'' he added.

Asked about his priorities, Kirsten said, ''I want to ensure that each player within the team performs at his best.

''When you are coaching an international team; you need to make sure that you get individuals to perform at their best and to create an environment for them to do that. There's a lot of man-management and lot of mentoring in it, that's something I enjoy,'' Kirsten said.

Kirsten said that he had no objections to Venkatesh Prasad and Robin Singh continuing their roles as bowling and fielding coaches respectively.

He also said that he was prepared for the media scrutiny that will follow his job in India.

The 40-year-old southpaw also sought to play down the controversy over his diaries after the 1996 tour to India by South Africa where he wrote that India was a difficult place to tour and made comments about facilities.

''I don't even remember saying those things. I don't think I would have said. I am excited about the job.

''I have always enjoyed playing cricket in India. I really don't think that will be an issue.

I have a job to do and my role would be to make sure the team performs to the best of its ability,'' he added.


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