Former India and South Africa coach Gary Kirsten definitively ruled himself out of the running to replace Andy Flower as England’s team director.
The 46-year-old is one of the world’s top coaches and boasts a glittering CV at the highest level, having guided both his native South Africa and India to No 1 in the Test rankings.
The former Ashes-winning captain Michael Vaughan is just one influential voice who had called on the England and Wales Cricket Board to make him an offer he could not refuse.
But Kirsten cited the gruelling time demands of international cricket when he resigned from the South Africa post, making an equally exhausting job with England a non-starter.
Having spoken more obliquely at the start of the week about his priorities not changing, Kirsten addressed the England job directly and left little doubt that it was not for him. “I would regard any job like that as a privilege,” he said. “But I gave up the Proteas job for family reasons – I want to spend more time with a young family and that certainly hasn’t changed. I love cricket coaching, I love being with an international team. But unfortunately the demands of it don’t suit where I want to be.
“It would have been a great challenge, it’s a high-profile sport. Whenever I’ve toured England I’ve always been amazed by the following. It’s a pressurised sport and I think Andy Flower over many years did an exceptional job.”
The Cape Town native will instead continue in charge of Indian Premier League franchise Delhi Daredevils, while working on a consultancy basis with South Africa. Whether that will satisfy him in the long term remains to be seen, but for the moment it presents a perfect fit.
Reflecting on what might have been with England, he added: “I had many chats with Andy and I enjoyed his way. I have often wondered whether I could go in with my coaching philosophies and thinking that it could work within that environment. I would have enjoyed the challenge, like I would any challenge that I take on.
“I’m taking on the IPL team the Delhi Daredevils but I’m looking forward to that challenge and the one thing I’m really looking forward to is working with some Englishmen, some Australians, some West Indians maybe, some South Africans and Indians.”
One of those Englishmen could yet be Kevin Pietersen, who is expected to enter the IPL auction as a free agent next week and be available for the entire competition for the first time. While Indian franchises and fans are excited about the prospect of seeing Pietersen in the coming months, an element of frustration continues to fester in England about the lack of transparency surrounding his axing.
Kirsten would not be drawn on the ECB’s decision to omit Pietersen from its tour squads, but South Africa bowling coach Allan Donald struggled to see the logic of it. “I’d rather have a Kevin Pietersen in my side every day,” said Donald.