‘Kirsten’s choice is genuine’

2013-05-14 00:00

MOST people, on hearing of Protea coach Gary Kirsten’s decision not to renew his contract with Cricket SA last week, raised their eyebrows.

It wasn’t much in shock, but more in a cynical fashion, especially when his reason was to spend more time with his family.

It sounded a rather meek way to step down from such a revered position, and wasn’t helped by Jacques Kallis’s announcement that he was unavailable for the Champions Trophy in England next month for personal reasons. With South African sport often controversial, ideas were thrown around that there must be more than meets the eye.

On the eve of an important ICC tournament, how could the coach leave the world’s top Test team in the lurch?

Kirsten’s old Protea batting partner and current convenor of selectors Andrew Hudson knows better.

He knows a man who gives 100% to what he does and, with a family, he has decided that is what’s needed.

Said Hudson: “It’s a genuine explanation and scenario. There are no undertones whatsoever. It’s a high profile job and it does become a dilemma trying to make time for cricket and family. There must be a balance and in such a position, cricket normally gets the bigger chunk of the pie.”

Hudson said Kirsten had obviously decided he was spending too much time on the field, rather than at home.

“As coach, you are in the thick of everything relating to the team. There is not much off time and travelling away from home is an extra burden.

“When we were Protea team-mates, he was still single and it was an adventure. Once Gary married and committed himself to his wife and started a family, his priorities rightly changed,” said Hudson.

Kirsten’s record as a coach needs no explaining. He took India to the number one Test-ranked nation and has guided Graeme Smith and his men in white to the same honour.

Said Hudson: “Gary has reached incredible heights as a coach. His reputation and ability speaks for itself and he won’t battle for work in cricket circles. For the time being though, I think he is keen to concentrate on his cricket academy in the Cape, breeding our future Test stars. His family comes first though and time lost with them is time never recovered.”

Speaking on Russell Domingo stepping into Kirsten’s boots, Hudson was confident the competitive and winning trend would continue.

“Russell has been in the system for two years and has learnt much from Gary. He knows the ingredients, what makes the team tick and has a core bunch of players to call upon.

“He brings continuity to the team, but will no doubt add his own flavour to the set-up. The recipe for success is there and is not something he will change,” said Hudson.

Touching on the team and the players, Hudson said he had been keeping an eye on Dolphins batsman David Miller and was massively impressed with his IPL performances to date for the Kings XI Punjab, especially his 38-ball ton against the Royal Challengers Bangalore last week.

“It’s come at a time when I have been saying David needs to be more consistent to gain recognition. He is enjoying a productive IPL and has made a name for himself on a stage littered with big names in the game.

“He has not done his reputation or future any harm. He has clearly shown he can work the ball around, play an anchor role and suddenly step on the gas and change a game with a display of cultured, productive, devastating hitting,” said Hudson.

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