Top 10 Lesser Known Facts About Gary Kirsten



He is perhaps the only cricketer till date who has been as successful during his life as a top international cricketer as well as a top level cricket coach and still remained one of the most affable and gentlemanly human beings around. Success has not gone to Gary Kirsten’s head and he still remains one of the most loved cricketers in the cricketing world. In this article, you will get to know some of the facts and trivia from his life which you might not have known.

10. The Taj Mahal Palace Hotel in Mumbai is His Favourite Hotel

To sign off this motley group of facts on Gary Kirsten is his favourite hotel and when you think about the number of hotels he has stayed in across the world throughout his life as an international cricketer then his favourite hotel would really have to be a special one. The hotel that according to his is the best one he has ever stayed in is the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel in Mumbai, which has also been consistently rated as one of the best in India ever since it opened its doors in the last century. In addition to that, he stayed in the hotel many times during his tenure as the coach of the Indian cricket team as well which perhaps titled the balance even more.


9. Tandoori Chicken is One of His Favourite Dishes

It is an open secret that most overseas cricketers who come to India end up switching their allegiances as far as their favourite food item is concerned and it is the same with Gary Kirsten who spent a considerable amount of time in India both as player (2 tours in 1996 and 2000) and as the coach of the Indian cricket team. At number 9 is Gary Kirsten’s favourite dish and it is the Tandoori Chicken that he simply cannot get enough of. When he used to live in India he used to eat it pretty regularly but you might expect that has become much more sporadic now that he no longer lives in India.


8. His Comments about India during His First Tour Were Not Taken Kindly

You might see cricketers singing praises about the ‘diversity’ that they see in India these days probably due to the fat IPL contracts that they need to acquire but in the old days cricketers from developed countries used to repeatedly lampoon the standard of living of the common folk in India. When Gary toured India for the first time he made a statement that would have made his position as the coach of the Indian cricket team pretty uncomfortable. These were the exact words: – “62 days in a country where westernized living conditions are regarded a luxury, is no task for the faint-hearted”. However, when he was asked about it, he was at his affable best and responded that the conditions have improved a lot since he was last there, which completely dispelled the brewing tension.


7. He Shares His Nickname with another Iconic Sportsman

Next in at number 7 is the nickname that Gary Kirsten shares with another iconic sportsman who is still regarded as one of the best footballers to have ever played the game- Paul Gascoigne. Although you might say that the two individuals are polar opposites as far as their personalities are concerned they are tied by the common thread of a famous nickname- ‘Gazza’. As a matter of fact even their autobiographies are titled the same. Yeah, you guessed it right- ‘Gazza’ again.


6. Running is His Early Morning Ritual

Most cricketers are prone to put on weight once they have retired but if you compare the Gary Kirsten in the photographs from his playing days to the ones now then you would hardly notice any difference in build and stature. Kirsten is an extremely fit man and the secret behind it not the hours spent in the gym but a religious dedication towards running first thing in the morning. He has followed the routine for the last quarter of a century and makes it a point to run at least 40 kilometres in a week, if not more.


5. He Has Set Up His Own Unique Business

At number 5 is the rather unique business that Gary Kirsten has set up with former Indian ‘mental conditioning’ coach Paddy Upton which draws upon the strengths of both these individuals to nurture and inspire individuals towards bigger things. You would agree that Kirsten’s CV is quite impressive considering his stellar efforts as the coach of the Indian and South African cricket teams and the company that he has opened is only a natural progression. The name of the company is Performance Zone and as the name suggests they work with people to bring about positive changes in whichever endeavours they might be engaged in. You can check out for more on this business venture.


4. His Father Was the Curator at Newlands

Newlands is one of the most picturesque grounds in the world with the famed Table Mountains forming a picture perfect backdrop but in addition to that it is also famous for being one of the best cricket stadiums in the country, with a pitch that is often applauded for offering an even contest between bat and ball. What many don’t know is that Gary’s father Noel used to be the curator of Newlands for many years and it was only due to his astute planning that the pitch and the outfield at Newlands became one of the worlds finest. So it should come as no surprise to you that Kirsten often used to say that playing at Newlands was akin to playing in the backyard of his house.


3. His Debut Came Under Bizarre Circumstances

When he was first selected to play for South Africa during the tour of Australia in 1993 Gary Kirsten was not a certainty in the Test side but merely a backup who would be called upon if need be. However, he got the chance to debut under bizarre circumstances when the team’s designated all rounder Brian McMillan injured his ankle at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on the morning of the Test match. The MCG had played host to a Madonna concert a few days back and McMillan’s ankle was injured when it slipped into a hole that was there, probably due to the arrangements the ground authorities had to make for the concert. It shouldn’t surprise you that Kirsten thanks- jokingly of course- Madonna for handing him his Test debut.


2. He Hails From a Cricketing Family

It has often been noticed that the cricketing prowess of an older sibling in the family often inspires the younger siblings in the family to follow suit and it was no different with Gary Kirsten. The reason it is at number 2 is because it was possibly trigger for the deep lying passion that Gary Kirsten had for the game. His half brother Peter was an accomplished cricketer and opening batsman for South Africa who in fact was a star in the 1992 World Cup when South Africa famously reached the semi finals and in addition to that his younger brother Paul was also a first class cricketer who played 55 matches for Western Province.


1. Cricket Was the Only Game That He Ever Wanted to Play

In sports oriented countries like South Africa most kids play more than one game and the most common ‘second game’ among cricketers is either rugby or hockey but it was not the case with the ever determined Gary Kirsten. When he was a young man Gary Kirsten had his sights on only one thing and that was to become a professional cricketer. The reason why it makes it to the top of the rankings is because of the fact that when Kirsten was growing up South Africa were not even allowed to play international cricket and to have that sort of an ambition is highly commendable. You can well imagine what sort of dilemma other aspiring cricketers might have had but Kirsten’s convictions served him well.



Hopefully you have thoroughly enjoyed this article on one of the most likeable cricketers that you could ever come across and a thorough gentleman. Please do not forget to let everyone know what you think about this article in the comments section below.


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