Introduction - Louis Cameron, www.cricket.com.au
‘Super Coach’ Gary Kirsten confirmed this week that he could not see out the second year of his Hurricanes head coaching contract due to personal reasons, after taking the club to the Big Bash Grand Final in his first season.
Tasmanian Tigers Head Coach Adam Griffith, who was Senior Assistant Coach to Kirsten with the BBL team last season, will now take the Hurricanes helm.
Tasmanian cricket legends Ricky Ponting and David Boon were part of a Cricket Tasmania panel that made the decision to hire Kirsten in April last year, tasking him with turning around the fortunes of the State's struggling T20 team, while playing a role developing a number of younger players.
Having finished amongst the ladder’s bottom half across the previous three seasons, the Hurricanes made the BBL|07 Grand Final before going down to the Adelaide Strikers.
Despite the defeat, the South African oversaw a remarkable season from Player-Of-The-Tournament D'Arcy Short, while the likes of overseas recruit Jofra Archer and local players Ben McDermott and Tom Rogers all flourished in breakout campaigns.
Kirsten struck 21 hundreds in 101 Tests and another 13 centuries across 185 ODIs for the Proteas through the 1990s and early 2000s, coached India to victory at the 2011 Cricket World Cup, before returning home to take the head coaching reins with South Africa.
He took his former national side to the top of the ICC Test rankings during his stint from 2011-2013, while he was the batting coach for Indian Premier League side Royal Challengers Bangalore last season.
Cricket Tasmania CEO Nick Cummins Answers All Your Questions
We’ve got some sad news and also some positive news to share with you around the Hurricanes.
Firstly, we want to let you all know that unfortunately, Gary Kirsten has resigned from his position as Head Coach of the BBL Hurricanes.
He’s done that for a very specific personal reason which unfortunately I can’t expand on with too much more detail at his request.
It’s something that’s become apparent over the last four weeks or so, that we’ve been working with him on, but sadly it’s going to prevent him from coming to Australia this summer.
We looked at a few different ways that we could continue to have him involved, but this specific issue is going to prevent him from doing that.
It’s a real personal blow because we really enjoyed working with him – he had a significant impact on our Male Program in a very short period of time.
He was great for the reputation of the program and also most importantly, he was also a really good bloke.
We’re working with Gary at the moment to see whether we can get him to come this summer and allow the members and fans to give him a proper send-off which he’s really keen to do.
But at this stage it’s just a work in progress.
So with one door closing it also opens up another door, and that gives us an opportunity to appoint Adam Griffith as our Head Coach of the BBL Hurricanes.
It’s always been our long-term plan for ‘Griff’ to step up into that role under Gary’s leadership initially and then transition over the next couple of years.
That plan has come forward maybe a couple of years earlier than we initially expected, but I think ‘Griff’ in his role with the Tigers and also with the Hurricanes and previously with the Perth Scorchers, has shown that he is more than capable of doing the job.
The upside is obvious – it gives us an opportunity to work with the Head Coach with quite a number of our Hurricanes players who are also Tigers players for 12 months of the year and think strategically around our program – much like we do with the Women’s Program – it’s just one Men’s Program covering all formats.
So that’s a great result and I’d personally like to congratulate Adam on his appointment, but also once again, express our thanks to Gary for everything that he did in his short time at the Hurricanes and hope that everything is sorted for him very soon.
Is this a permanent appointment for Adam Griffith as Hurricanes Head Coach?
Yes it is – so Gary has resigned, and as I said, we looked at a few different ways that we might be able to keep him involved, but it just wasn’t going to work, so it’s a permanent appointment for Adam going forward.
Can you elaborate any more on Gary’s situation at all – is it personal or family related?
I can’t just because he specifically requested that the details aren’t disclosed, but it’s something in regards to his personal life that hopefully will be sorted for him very soon.
With that in mind was he pretty disappointed not to be able to come back?
Very… He’s become a very passionate and ardent Hurricanes supporter in a very short period of time.
We were actually talking to him recently about expanding his role and having him work as a mentor in the Tigers space as well.
So we’ve rapidly gone from ‘more Gary’ to ‘no Gary’ and so he’s disappointed, as are we.
What sort of hole does it leave in the organisation with it being hard to replace someone of Gary’s stature?
Absolutely. But I think (Assistant Coach) Jeff Vaughan was underutilised last season in the Hurricanes space so this provides an opportunity for him to step up.
We are also still in the market for another Assistant Coach and that provides a really exciting avenue for a coach – whether they come from Australia or overseas, to be involved in the Hurricanes Program.
It does leave a hole – there’s a reason why we had him involved in the program – he’s a very good coach who’s achieved just about everything you could as a player and a coach in his career and was a valuable confidante for ‘Griff’ as well when talking about coaching and leadership.
Is it the case that Gary won’t be involved in any cricket internationally – is it the travel factor?
It’s a combination – he will significantly reduce his involvement so I suspect he may well continue doing some stuff with (Royal Challengers) Bangalore but part of this decision is significantly cutting down the amount of activity that he does.
Has he ruled out a return in the future?
No he hasn’t ruled it out, but I think though for us now that we’ve made this decision, I don’t think it’s fair on Adam or the players if we have a temporary or stop-gap measure.
We really need to take a view that this decision we’ve made will be the decision for the next ten years otherwise it creates uncertainty and instability.
But certainly as I said, we’d love to have him come back this summer, even if it’s just for a week to sit on the bench and be with the team again, because he was a great coach for us and we’re very sorry to see him go.
It’s bittersweet but how much upside does having that continuity across Shield cricket, One-Day cricket and the BBL give you now?
Significant upside. When we were hiring for Gary 18 months ago, ideally we would have liked to have a coach work across both programs.
But as it was, we had to hire the Hurricanes BBL coach first, and then later hire the Tigers coach.
I think for Adam in his first year as well, it’s a lot to try and do Hurricanes, Shield, One-Day Cup and be a Head Coach of your own program.
So it was always going to be a transition and ultimately we wanted to have the same head coach male and female look after their entire program.
It means for the Men’s Program, if there’s a player that’s definitely not going to play JLT Cup or Shield but they are going to play in the Big Bash, we can actually start working with them around their training a lot earlier than starting to think about their T20 skills on the 10th of December.
I think the Perth Scorchers and Western Warriors have shown emphatically that a one program approach delivers some really good results.
Did having a big name like Gary Kirsten help with player recruitment and is his loss now a downside in that area?
It did 18 months ago where the program was, but it’s a very different proposition now playing for the Hurricanes and indeed the Tigers.
So even when we were recruiting for the Tigers 12 months ago, people were reticent because the program didn’t have a great reputation.
Now, 12 months later, the players have an opportunity to play with one of the finalists in the Big Bash – that’s a different proposition.
So I know from having done the recruitment over the last six months, that this is not an issue anymore.
How many players are left to finalise the BBL Hurricanes playing list?
One – just the one spot, which is a local or Australian player.
So I think we’ll wait till the JLT One-Day Cup and see how things are unfolding and we’ve got the UAE Tour with the Abu Dhabi T20 Trophy in October.
And it looks like we’ve got a tour to Sydney again with their academy and possibly another tour over to New Zealand.
So there’s more than enough time for someone locally to put their hand up.
We’ve got a couple of players in mind but we just want to see how they perform against top class opposition, so I think the UAE tournament will be really important in that regard.