1. Gary Kirsten (2007-2011)
When Kirsten stepped in, Team India had just suffered a humiliating loss in the 2007 World Cup and had also been through a rough time with Greg Chappell as coach. But when the former South African opener arrived in India, he turned out to be a true blessing for the Indians, who were desperate to get back to winning ways.
Kirsten took an immediate liking to the Indian skipper M.S. Dhoni, marvelling at his ability to keep his cool at all times. The Dhoni-Kirsten duo had some memorable experiences together, including achieving the No. 1 Test Ranking in 2009. He also coached India to its first bilateral series win in Sri Lanka against Sri Lanka and India’s first Test and One-Day International series victories against New Zealand in New Zealand after 40 years. He always maintained a great relationship with both senior and junior players and played a crucial role in churning out a well balanced winning unit. He has been hailed by many as the greatest Indian coach of all time.
In his last major campaign for India in 2011, his players gave him a perfect send-off by winning the ICC ODI World Cup after 28 years. Kirsten ended his tenure as coach after India lifted the trophy. During the team’s victory lap, he was carried around the ground by Suresh Raina, Virat Kohli, and Yusuf Pathan, as a mark of respect to the coach who brought India one of its greatest accolades to date.
Also known as Guru Gary, he was hailed by skipper MS Dhoni as the ‘best thing that ever happened to Indian cricket.’
Soon after his retirement as the Indian coach, Kirsten was appointed as Coach for the South African side.