x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Kirsten and de Villiers in the hot seat

The former opening batsman, who achieved all it would seem with India, is now head coach of his native South Africa.

Gary Kirsten, who guided India to the World Cup title two months ago, was named coach of his native South Africa yesterday.

The 43-year-old former Proteas opening batsman will have the official title of head coach and team director and be assisted by Allan Donald, the former South Africa fast bowler, and Russell Domingo, the Eastern Cape Warriors manager.

Kirsten succeeds Corrie van Zyl, whose caretaker role since early last year after Mickey Arthur quit came to an end when New Zealand shocked South Africa in the World Cup quarter-finals. His first challenges will be a multi-format home series against arch rivals Australia from October and Sri Lanka are also scheduled to play in South Africa this year.

A Cricket South Africa media conference also announced that AB de Villiers, the wicketkeeper-batsman, will become one-day and Twenty20 captain while Graeme Smith, the opening batsman, stays as Test captain.

Kirsten had no formal coaching experience beyond running a Cape Town academy when he was surprisingly put in charge of Sachin Tendulkar and his fellow Indian superstars. The reign reached a perfect climax before a sell-out 33,000 crowd at Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai as India defeated Sri Lanka by six wickets in the World Cup final.

Taking charge of the Proteas is the culmination of a dream for Kirsten, whose 101 Test appearances between 1993 and 2004 produced 7,289 runs, 21 centuries and a highest score of 275 against England in Durban.

"I would love to coach the South African team - it's my people. It will be a natural progression. I would consider it a massive honour," he said ahead of an appointment widely predicted by the media for several weeks.

Donald, nicknamed "White Lightning" during a 72-Test career that reaped 330 wickets because of his fearsome pace, brings a wealth of international experience having been bowling coach of England and New Zealand.

* Agence France-Presse