Kirsten may yet coach Proteas

2011-04-04 17:11
Gary Kirsten (File)

Johannesburg - As the most sought after coach in world cricket, Gary Kirsten will think long and hard before making a decision on his next move, but Cricket South Africa (CSA) will be eager for the former top order batsman to settle at home.

Kirsten stepped down last week after a tremendously successful three-year spell with India, and immediately announced he was considering the Proteas job, which, fittingly, is available.

South Africa's coach, Corrie van Zyl, has stepped down after the Proteas were knocked out of the World Cup with a thumping defeat to New Zealand in the quarter-finals.

Kirsten, on the other hand, went all the way with the host nation and South Africa's cricket administrators will be chomping at the bit to reign in the only figure in South African cricket who knows how to win a World Cup.

"I'm going to take some time off and spend some time with my family who haven't seen me in a while, and I'll decide on my future after one or two months," Kirsten told BBC Radio.

"South Africa have approached me, but I've told them I'm not going to make any decisions just yet. I'm going to clear my mind for a while after this magnificent journey."

CSA has a short list of six possible figures to take over as head coach, but considering his achievements in India, and as one of South Africa's most prolific players during the 1990s, if Kirsten remains interested he seems likely to be the best candidate.

India will certainly miss his expertise, with a number of players applauding his efforts during his three-year tenure in which India moved top of the world Test rankings, won a one-day series in New Zealand for the first time in 40 years and lifted the most prestigious trophy in world cricket for the first time in 28 years.

"I will remember Kirsten as the best coach I have ever played under," spin bowler Harbhajan Singh told the website.

"He is a best friend too and always there to help me. He is a very hard-working guy and gives 100 per cent every time."

Batsman Suresh Raina, one of the players who hoisted Kirsten on their shoulders on Saturday after defeating Sri Lanka in the final, said the South African was key to India's success over the last couple of years.

"Under him we won a lot of Test and ODI series outside the country," Raina said.

"If you check the rankings, we are number one in Tests and number two in ODIs. So that proves what a good coach he is."

Kirsten will have fond memories of his playing days in his home country.

Now 43, he retired in 2004 after representing South Africa in 101 Tests and 185 one-day internationals over a period spanning more than a decade. He averaged over 40 with the bat in both formats.

His knowledge of the game, especially on South African pitches, and the experience he has gained as a world-renowned coach, would be invaluable to the Proteas who will need someone to rebuild their confidence after another shock defeat in an ICC event.

Kirsten has stated his intent to spend more time in Cape Town with his family - wife Deborah and sons Joshua and James - which he cited as the reason for not renewing his contract with the Board of Control for Cricket in India.

CSA will not be naming their head coach for another few months, which gives Kirsten some time with his loved ones while he floats back down from the high of winning the global title.

During that time he may decide to take up the job, if it is offered, to lead a trodden team back to their best.

And perhaps in four years' time Kirsten will be hoisted on the shoulders of his team yet again, this time by players in green after shedding that heavy, unwanted choker's tag.

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