Two potentially significant retirements have been announced in international cricket this week. Gary Kirsten, who repeated his coaching feat of guiding India to number one spot across formats with South Africa, has announced that he is looking to spend more time with his young family instead of accepting Cricket South Africa’s contract extension. At the other end of the cricketing spectrum, Mushfiqur Rahim has resigned his captaincy of the perennial losers Bangladesh.
Kirsten leaving South Africa is a big blow. He is the ideal international coach: he was a left handed bat, from Africa, was a boring/gritty batsman who made the most of his abilities, and he never, ever smiles. Having said that, his time with India came at a good time – inheriting a crop of very talented players with enough legs in them to grapple number one spot away from the retirement-riddled Australia, and leaving at the point where age had caught up with many of India’s squad too.
Kirsten then took a sabbatical, before eventually taking over the Proteas, a side with obviously all the tools to dominate cricket in the short term at least, in a very similar position to the Indians when he took over there: a strike bowler who swings it late (Steyn/Zaheer), a tall foil to that bowler (Morkel/Ishant) a dominant batting line-up with plenty of depth and a keeper who offers depth to the squad (AB/Dhoni). Given these similarities and the recent news, has he perhaps foreseen the retirement of Kallis and long-term issues with De Villier’s keeping wicket and thus decided to protect his own legacy by avoiding the forthcoming drop? Probably not, but everyone loves a conspiracy and well, the only way is down for South Africa.
Rahim is an interesting one. Backed by the Bangladesh board who seemed completely taken aback by his sudden resignation, he hasn’t done all that well since becoming captain in 2011. Bangladesh are losing the current ODI series against Zimbabwe after managing to level the Test series 1-1 having lost the first Test by 335 runs.
What is undeniable is that Bangladeshi cricketers are pretty good at the ages of 18 or 19 as their age-group performances show, but they’re yet to mature into a competitive cricketing nation. Rumours about the indiscipline of the Bangers being one of the main reason for Rahim’s departure, with poor schedule adherence and low levels of motivation linked to some genuinely dreadful dismissals on this current tour are rife; they are waiting for an Arjuna Ranatunga to come in and whip them into shape. With several of cricket’s top nations looking decidedly shaky at the moment, it is a great time for Bangladesh to develop into a competitive unit; there are scalps to be had across the world.
The ramifications of these events could be large; they might not even be noticeable. Whether South Africa will continue wallowing in the pot of gold end of the rainbow whilst Bangladesh freeze sky high in the thinnest of atmospheres, or if they’ll together bring international cricket closer in terms of competitiveness and unpredictability remains to be seen. Odds on an upset in Dhaka June 2015? High, Very High…