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Gary Kirsten to step down as South Africa coach 'for family reasons'

Gary Kirsten will not renew his contract as South Africa coach when it expires at the end of July, the national cricket body said Friday.

Kirsten, who guided hosts India to the 2011 ICC World Cup title, signed a two-year contract with the Proteas the same year, and had the option of a two-year renewal.

However, the Cape Town-born coach told Cricket South Africa (CSA) officials he would quit his post at the end of July having established the Proteas as the top-ranking Test nation.


Gary Kirsten's with his wife. File Pic

"Gary has a young family and it is understandable that he wishes to spend more time at home," CSA president and board chairman Chris Nenzani said in a statement.

Kirsten will lead South Africa at the ICC Champions Trophy during June in England and Wales, where the AB de Villiers-skippered side hope to ditch the long-held tag of 'chokers' after numerous tournament flops.

South Africa lost only two of 19 Tests under Kirsten, who led them to series victories against Sri Lanka, New Zealand, England, arch-rivals Australia, and Pakistan.

The 45-year-old former Test opening batsman was less successful with the limited-over teams, winning 13 of 24 one-day internationals and nine of 18 Twenty20 matches. 

"There have been many highlights over the past two years which have been well documented and I have every confidence that the Proteas will continue to go from strength to strength," Kirsten said in a statement.

"I would like to thank Cricket South Africa for the confidence they showed in entrusting me with the fortunes of the national team," Kirsten said. "It has been a huge privilege to represent my country as player and coach and to have been given the responsibility of growing the team.

"I would particularly like to thank Cricket South Africa for allowing me the flexibility to combine my coaching job with my family life during my tenure.

"With the Proteas due to tour Sri Lanka in July and August and Pakistan in November and important home series coming up against India and Australia next season it is important that we move quickly to identify his successor," Nenzani said, adding he hoped to utilise Kirsten's experience in some other capacity.

"We will certainly endeavour to retain his services in some capacity as his experience as player, coach and mentor is not something we want to lose in its entirety."

"It is obvious to all of us, whether we have been close to the Proteas or simply fans watching from the stands, the standard of excellence that he has brought to our national team and it will be wonderful if he can complete his tenure by bringing home the ICC Champions Trophy next month."

Gary Kirsten and his son Joshua
Gary Kirsten's with son Joshua. File Pic

The former opening batsman played international cricket for South Africa between 1993 and 2004, averaging over 40 in both tests and one day internationals.

After his retirement from the game he set up an academy in Cape Town and in late 2007 was named coach of India, commuting between his home and the sub-continent to guide the team.

Kirsten, who has two young sons and a daughter, has spoken often in interviews of the difficulty of juggling family life with the travel demands of international cricket.

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