Kirsten to coach Pakistan in white-ball cricket, Gillespie becomes red-ball coach

Kirsten is expected to take over ahead of Pakistan’s tour of England. (Source:

Shahid Hashmi

The Pakistan Cricket Board heads in the right direction in their bid to improve the standards of their national men’s team, appointing World Cup-winning coach Gary Kirsten as the white-ball head coach and Jason Gillespie for the longer format.

“We have appointed Gary Kirsten as white-ball head coach and Jason Gillespie as red-ball head coach,” said PCB chairman Moshin Naqvi, who has taken some major decisions to uplift the standards of Pakistan cricket since taking over two months ago.

Naqvi, who is also a Senator in Pakistan’s Upper parliament, the Senate, and federal interior minister, has the backing of the current government, which has enabled him to take major decisions.

He acknowledged both Kirsten and Gillespie’s stature as coaches.

“Jason’s coaching career has been marked by success both at the domestic and international levels, with a focus on player development and achieving excellence in team performance,” said Naqvi of the former Australian paceman who guided Yorkshire to English county titles in 2014 and 2015.

Gillespie also served as Adelaide Strikers and South Australia coach, taking the former to the Big Bash title in 2017-18.

“Gary’s coaching career has been marked by his ability to instil a winning mentality, develop young talent, and achieve success at the highest levels of the game, making him one of the most respected and sought-after coaches in cricket,” said Naqvi.

The former South Africa opener has an acclaimed status in coaching, having overseen India’s triumph at the 2011 World Cup as well as taking his native country to Test number one team.

Former Pakistan all-rounder Azhar Mahmood will be the assistant coach for all three formats, having served as interim head coach in the 2-2 T20I series against New Zealand. The appointment is to keep a bonding between the two coaches and the players.

Kirsten will take charge of the side immediately after completing his assignment in the Indian Premier League. During his tenure, besides the upcoming ICC Men’s T20 World Cup 2024 and other bilateral white-ball series, Kirsten will also be in charge of the side for next year’s ICC Champions Trophy 2025 in Pakistan, ACC T20 Asia Cup 2025 and the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup 2026 in India and Sri Lanka.

Kirsten showed delight at getting the responsibility.

“It’s a tremendous honour to be entrusted with the responsibility of coaching the Pakistan men’s national team in white-ball cricket and to rejoin the international cricket arena after some time,” said Kirsten.

“My perspective on Pakistan cricket has remained consistent over time. There’s always an inherent expectation for the team to perform at a high level consistently. Understanding the current state of the team and charting a path towards our desired goals is paramount. Winning ICC events, while challenging, remains a significant objective. Whether it’s the upcoming tournament in June or events in the future, achieving success in these competitions would be a remarkable feat.”

Gillespie will assume responsibilities for the ICC World Test Championship fixtures against Bangladesh (at home in August), which will be followed by Tests against England (at home in October) and South Africa (away in December) in the 2024-25 season.

Gillespie said Pakistan was a highly talented team.

“I am grateful to the PCB for their faith in my abilities and giving me the honour of coaching one of the most highly-regarded and talented cricket teams in the traditional format of the sport,” said Gillespie. “Leading the Pakistan cricket team is a big achievement for any coach, given its rich legacy and passionate fan base.

“Within Pakistan we have a number of high-quality fast bowlers and being able to utilise them will be a key part of any success we enjoy. But we have quality in all departments – pace, spin, batting and ‘keeping. We have all bases covered. It is exciting to know we have that talent and I am looking forward to working with such talented players.

“I understand there will be expectations and that comes with the role. All I can do is to take it in my stride and I would not have taken on the job if I did not think I could deal with it.”

Risky job

Pakistan have a history of sacking their head coaches in the past, with South African Richard Pybus (three tenures), Australians Dav Whatmore andGeoff Lawson, and Bob Woolmer (South Africa) and Mickey Arthur (South Africa – twice) having stints with the Pakistan team.

So instant were the sacking of the coaches that Intikhab Alam – who was the manager-cum-coach during the 1992 World cup triumph – was once sacked mid-way through a series after Pakistan trailed 2-0 in a three-match affair against Sri Lanka in 1995.

Pakistan’s legendary batsman Javed Miandad was not as successful in coaching. Two of his three tenures ended abruptly, once after defeat against arch-rivals India in 2004.

That brought Pakistan their longest serving coach, Bob Woolmer, whose two-year-nine-month stint ended in a sudden death during the 2007 World Cup in the Caribbean, initially treated as a murder but proven natural after thorough investigation.

“It was a big challenge to take over as Pakistan coach but I am enjoying it despite the various unwanted luggage which comes with it,” Woolmer once said.

The frequent changes synchronised with the changes in the PCB chairmanship as every head went for his choice. That prompted several coaches to abstain from taking the bait.

Finally success

Pakistan did try to lure Justin Langer, Adam Voges, Brendon McCullum, Kirsten, Ricky Ponting et al. in the recent past but all were hesitant in accepting a risky role. Arthur only agreed to become team director after he was allowed to keep his job at Derbyshire county. But soon after Pakistan’s flop show at the 2023 World Cup in India, Arthur and head coach Grant Bradburn were replaced with Mohammad Hafeez.

But since Naqvi took over he showed his intentions of hiring foreign coaches, forcing Hafeez to resign from the post.

Pakistan’s next assignment is a three-match T20I series in Ireland from May 10-14 followed by four matches in England (May 22-30) before heading to the World Cup.