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Major changes for S Africa as Kirsten takes charge

Gary Kirsten will take charge of the South African cricket team in August, heading an almost completely new leadership group. Kirsten's appointment as team director and head coach was announced by Cricket South Africa (CSA) today.

cricket Updated: Jun 06, 2011 21:45 IST

Gary Kirsten will take charge of the South African cricket team in August, heading an almost completely new leadership group. Kirsten's appointment as team director and head coach was announced by Cricket South Africa (CSA) on Monday.

He will have two new lieutenants in assistant coach Russell Domingo and bowling coach Allan Donald and a new one-day and Twenty20 captain in AB de Villiers.

Graeme Smith will remain captain of the Test team, the only post that remains with the previous incumbent.

De Villiers will be vice-captain of the Test team and Hashim Amla will be vice-captain of the limited overs sides.

Kirsten will officially start a two-year contract on August 1 after what he described as a necessary "cooling off period" after his three-year stint as coach of India, which culminated in World Cup glory in April.

Domingo will also start work on August 1 but former fast bowling great Donald will start work immediately and travel with the South Africa A team to Zimbabwe this month.

Kirsten, 43, who played in 101 Tests for South Africa, said being appointed to coach his native country was a "major honour" but set no specific goals.

But CSA chief executive Gerald Majola said one reason why there had been an exhaustive process to find the new coach was a lack of consistency in the South African team's results and its failure to land a major global event such as the World Cup.

South African cricket was "a very different environment" from that in India, said Kirsten.

"It is important to get back into understanding the South African cricket environment and I am looking forward to working with the captains and the players."

Kirsten said consultants would be used from time to time to assist the full-time coaches.

He said Paddy Upton, the mental conditioning coach who shared much of the credit with Kirsten for India's success, would work with the South African team, although not on a full-time basis.

The new appointments mean the end of long-time assistant coach Vincent Barnes' role with the team.

The appointment of De Villiers and Amla mean there will be no leadership role for Johan Botha, who captained the Twenty20 team after Smith gave up that role last year.

And senior player Jacques Kallis, who has frequently acted as vice-captain or stand-in captain, will be free to concentrate on his role with Kirsten describing him as "one of the greatest players of all time".

De Villiers said he was looking forward to the challenge of captaincy.

He admitted that South Africa's defeat by New Zealand at the quarter-final stage of the World Cup had been disappointing.

"We have that history of not performing well in big events. We went down when the pressure was on again. That is definitely something I'd like to work on."