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Cricket: Kirsten to quit as South Africa coach

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

Gary Kirsten will not renew his contract as South Africa coach when it expires at the end of July because he wants to spend more time with his family, the national cricket body said Friday.

Kirsten, who guided hosts India to the 2011 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 coach told Cricket South Africa (CSA) officials he would quit his post at the end of July having established the Proteas as the top-ranked cricket Test nation.

"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.

"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 he has brought to our national team.

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

Kirsten thanked CSA for giving him the responsibility of growing the team and for allowing him the flexibility to combine his coaching role with his family life.

"From the outset of my contract it was a concern how I was going to manage spending a lot of time apart from my family," said the coach, who was away from home for more than 200 days last year.

"My wife was quite surprised by it (the decision to quit), but that is how strongly I feel about the institution of family," added the Cape Town-born coach.

"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.

"I like to think that the senior player base is very strong in South African cricket. I will miss the team and players -- we became very close -- and the camaraderie."

Kirsten will lead South Africa at the 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.

"It will be wonderful if Gary can complete his tenure by bringing home the Champions Trophy next month," said Nenzani of the one-day international event staged every four years between World Cup tournaments.

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.

South Africa are away to Sri Lanka during July and August and Pakistan during November before hosting India -- who draw the biggest crowds among teams touring the republic -- and Australia next season.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130511/cricket-kirsten-quit-south-africa-coach