| CAPE TOWN
CAPE TOWN South Africa cricket coach Gary Kirsten will not renew his contract after next month's Champions Trophy, citing family reasons in a surprise decision announced on Friday.
Kirsten, the most successful coach in test and limited overs cricket in recent years, said he spent 250 days away from home last year and needed to spend more time with his young family.
"Right from the outset of my contract it was a concern how I was going to manage spending time away," he told a news conference in Johannesburg hours after Cricket South Africa (CSA) announced he would not be renewing his two-year tenure.
His contract runs out in August.
"My wife was quite surprised by it but that's how strongly I feel about the institution of family," he said, bringing to an end a successful spell in charge in which the Proteas dominated the test arena and made strides in one-day internationals.
CSA president Chris Nenzani said he was sympathetic.
"Gary has a young family and it is understandable that he wishes to spend more time at home," Nenzani said in a statement.
The Champions Trophy in England and Wales will be the last tournament in charge of the side for the 45-year-old, who took up his post in 2011.
His initial contract was for two years with a further two-year option but he told the CSA board at the end of last month that he would not be staying on.
Kirsten led India to World Cup glory in 2011 and later that year returned home to coach South Africa having been singled out as the man who could lead his native country to similar success in the 2015 event.
His tenure has been lauded as a great success as he helped South Africa to the top of the International Cricket Council (ICC) test rankings after series wins over England, Australia, New Zealand and Pakistan in the last 12 months.
"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 I'll miss the camaraderie," Kirsten said.
A successor is expected to be announced soon.
"With the Proteas due to tour Sri Lanka in July and August and Pakistan in November and important home series coming up against India and Australia next season it is important that we move quickly to identify his successor," Nenzani said, adding that he hoped to keep Kirsten involved with cricket in the country.
"We will certainly endeavour to retain his services in some capacity as his experience as player, coach and mentor is not something we want to lose in its entirety.
"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 that he has brought to our national team and it will be wonderful if he can complete his tenure by bringing home the ICC Champions Trophy next month," Nenzani's statement added.
Kirsten opened the batting for South Africa between 1993 and 2004, averaging more than 40 in both tests and ODIs.
After his retirement from playing, he set up an academy in Cape Town and in late 2007 was named coach of India, commuting between his home and the sub-continent to guide the team.
Kirsten, who has two young sons and a daughter, has spoken often in interviews of the difficulty of juggling family life with the travel demands of international cricket. (Editing by Clare Fallon)