Durban – World Cup winning coach and one of South African cricket’s favourite sons, Gary Kirsten will take up the reins as head coach of the Durban Heat for the second edition of the Mzansi Super League starting at the beginning of November.
Kirsten has been heavily involved in coaching since his playing days ended in 2002 and was responsible for guiding India to their first World Cup triumph in 28 years when they lifted the trophy on home soil in 2011.
He has also been involved in T20 coaching around the world with his latest stint being the head coach of the Royal Challengers Bangalore in the Indian Premier League for the past two seasons. He also filled the role of head coach for the Hobart Hurricanes in the Big Bash League in Australia.
Kirsten’s wife, Deborah, is from KwaZulu-Natal and he still holds the record for the highest Test score at Kingsmead, 275 against England in 1999, so his connection with Durban and Kingsmead is a strong one.
“I have got fond memories of playing cricket at Kingsmead and, with my wife being from these parts, she thinks it is a natural progression!” Kirsten said light-heartedly.
“It is also a great opportunity to be involved in South African cricket and when Heinrich (Strydom) gave me the call I thought it was a great chance to stay relevant in the T20 space.
“For us as a franchise we want to ignite as much interest in the game as possible.
“The priority is obviously to win games but we want to get people behind the brand and get the spectators to feel that the Durban Heat is their team.”
With his wide ranging experience from all parts of the globe, Kirsten’s value cannot be understated. His worldwide experiences are going to be crucial for the side as they head into the competition.
“It’s a fantastic opportunity for me to add as much value as I can to the side that we select so that they can reach their potential.
“I find that every league is different and it’s going to be important that we get into a rhythm early.”
CEO of KZN Cricket Heinrich Strydom went out on a limb to secure the services of Kirsten and he couldn’t think of a better man for the job.
“We took a shot in the dark and I gave Gary a ring and he said yes,” Strydom said. “To have his knowledge and his skills on board is incredible and hopefully we will have a good, long relationship going forward.
“As a respected, humble ex-Protea player there are so many positive things that you can say about him and to have him on board is exactly what the game in South Africa needs.
“We are extremely grateful that Gary has taken this opportunity to lead the Durban Heat,” an appreciative Strydom added.
In other news from the franchise, five players have been retained from the squad that took part last year.
Recently crowned Standard Bank T20 International Player of the Year David Miller along with Kyle Abbott, Sarel Erwee, Keshav Maharaj and Khaya Zondo will all be in the squad for the upcoming competition.