By Oliver Brett
So you thought coaching England's football team was tough?
I hope Gary is able to speak his mind and I wish him all the best. But I would say that they haven't really needed a coach anyway
Former India Test player Farokh Engineer
Steve McClaren's successor, whoever that may be, will certainly have a busy portfolio, and be subject to intense media attention.
But that will be nothing compared to the scrutiny India's new coach Gary Kirsten can expect.
Indian cricket is a pressure-cooker world, and the South African can expect to have his performance analysed by the country's cricket-obsessed media with all the scrutiny of a nit nurse with a fine-toothed comb.
Former India Test player Farokh Engineer sums up the task neatly.
"You're in a very hot political cauldron there, trying to please everybody," he tells BBC Sport. "In many ways, you're on a hiding to nothing."
It's been a long, winding road finding the successor to Greg Chappell, who quit the post in March.
South African Graham Ford interviewed for the vacancy as long ago as June.
Ford was openly touted as the new man, but instead of accepting the job he scarpered back to the rather less pressurised environment of Canterbury to continue his association with Kent.
The former England off-spinner John Emburey, on the same shortlist as Ford, also revealed his desire to remain with his county - in his case Middlesex - after a chaotic few days in Chennai.
Eventually, the Board of Control for Cricket in India turned its attention to a second South African.
But Kirsten's journey to Delhi in late November, in marked contrast to the feverish scenes that greeted Ford and Emburey, was such a hush-hush affair that his own brother Peter was kept in the dark.
Peter Kirsten is a former Western Province coach and a veteran of 12 Tests - he would have played many more but for South Africa's exclusion from Test cricket.
He tells BBC Sport: "I didn't even know he'd flown over. He didn't speak to me at all about it.
"He's got his own cricket academy in Cape Town, so he's been doing a bit of consultancy work for various sporting bodies, and I know he's a batting coach for the Warriors [the Port Elizabeth-based provincial franchise].
"He definitely is set on coaching, that much is clear."
When Gary, now 40, retired from international cricket in 2004 he had broken almost every South African batting record in 101 Tests that yielded 21 centuries.
He batted for nearly 15 hours in a single innings, making 275, to prevent Nasser Hussain's England winning the Durban Test of 1999-2000 and returned to haunt England in the return series of 2003.
Though not necessarily the most gifted player on the circuit, his reserves of concentration were almost unrivalled at his peak and there was no doughtier opponent.
But can he coach a team of superstars in a goldfish-like environment?
"He hasn't coached a team as such but it does seem people are going for retired Test cricketers these days," says his brother.
"He's got a very calm temperament and is very good with people - I think he fits the bill in all areas.
"The big challenge would be working on a team basis because he's done more individual coaching - batting obviously being his strength - but he's always spoken very well and has very good press relationships.
"He'll find his feet."
When Chappell left the job after the disastrous World Cup campaign, India refused to act hurriedly to find his replacement.
Nasser Hussain congratulates Kirsten after his 275 in Durban
They came over to England with a team manager (Chandu Borde), a bowling coach and a fielding coach.
It was thought there was enough experience in the batting for that side of things to look after itself.
It looked an odd set-up - but it has proved a tremendous success, with India winning the Tests in England, the ICC World Twenty20 in South Africa, and now a great run of form in Pakistan.
When Engineer was India's wicket-keeper in the 1960s, there was no coach travelling with the team at all.
His fear is that given India's current success without an overall coach, any sudden dip in form under Kirsten will leave the South African mercilessly exposed.
"There's no real need for an overall coach," says Engineer.
"Venkatesh Prasad has been a fabulous bowling coach and under Robin Singh there's been a marked improvement in their fielding.
"But the BCCI have got a lot of money and I guess they can easily afford whatever it is - probably about £250,000 a year - employing someone like Gary.
"He might be able to input some new ideas, refine some of the points of the game, and he's got a shrewd cricketing brain, which you need.
John Wright did well with India [in the pre-Chappell era]. They're similar characters, and I think that's a good sign for Gary
"But India already have the strongest batting line-up in the world, with a guy like Mahendra Dhoni coming in at seven - what's a batting coach going to tell them?"
"I hope Gary is able to speak his mind and I wish him all the best. But I would say that they haven't really needed a coach anyway."
Kirsten will, at least, be well known to senior players Anil Kumble, Rahul Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar and Sourav Ganguly following the many India v South Africa skirmishes of past seasons.
"Sachin is a fantastic guy," says brother Peter.
"He will be dealing with an intelligent bunch of players and the initial respect is there.
"John Wright, who I played with at Derbyshire, did well with India [in the pre-Chappell era]. They're similar characters, and I think that's a good sign for Gary."