Kirsten out of England running
Ashley Giles' chances of becoming England's new director of cricket have risen sharply after the highly-rated Gary Kirsten removed himself from the reckoning due to family commitments.
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Giles, already in place as England's limited-overs coach, has been the favourite to succeed Andy Flower from the outset but would have faced stern competition had Kirsten emerged as a candidate.
The 46-year-old is one of the world's top coaches and boasts a glittering CV at the top level, having guided both his native South Africa and India to number one in the Test rankings.
Former Ashes-winning captain Michael Vaughan is just one influential voice who had called on the England and Wales Cricket Board to make him an offer he could not refuse.
But Kirsten cited the gruelling time demands of international cricket when he resigned the South Africa post, making an equally exhausting job with England a non-starter.
Having spoken more obliquely at the start of the week about his priorities not changing, Kirsten addressed the England job directly in an interview with Sky Sports News and left little doubt that it was not for him."I would regard any job like that as a privilege," he said.
"But I gave up the Proteas job for family reasons - I want to spend more time with a young family and that certainly hasn't changed. I love cricket coaching, I love being with an international team. But unfortunately the demands of it don't suit where I want to be.
"It would have been a great challenge, it's a high-profile sport. Whenever I've toured England I've always been amazed by the following. It's a pressurised sport and I think Andy Flower over many years did an exceptional job."
The Cape Town native will instead continue in charge of Indian Premier League franchise Delhi Daredevils, while working on a consultancy basis with South Africa.
Whether that will satisfy him in the long term remains to be seen, but for the moment it presents a perfect fit.
Reflecting on what might have been with England, he added:
"I had many chats with Andy and I enjoyed his way.
"I have often wondered whether I could go in with my coaching philosophies and thinking that it could work within that environment. I would have enjoyed the challenge, like I would any challenge that I take on.
"I'm taking on the IPL team the Delhi Daredevils - thank goodness it's a shorter period of time - but I'm looking forward to that challenge and the one thing I'm really looking forward to is working with some Englishmen, some Australians, some West Indians maybe, some South Africans and Indians."
One of those Englishmen could yet be Kevin Pietersen, who is expected to enter the IPL auction as a free agent next week and be available for the entire competition for the first time.
While Indian franchises and fans are excited about the prospect of seeing Pietersen in the coming months, an element of frustration continues to fester in England about the lack of transparency surrounding his axeing.
One brief press release and a guarded appearance by national selector James Whitaker constitute the sum total of the ECB's explanation to date.
Former Surrey and Sussex director of cricket Chris Adams, who once harboured his own ambitions of leading England, is among those who want more information.
"I'm really disappointed that the ECB didn't come out with an old-fashioned press conference and front up and say what has happened," he told Sky Sports.
"I understand why, because of the legal issues, and the need to lock down on any uncomfortable questions.
"The new people who have just come in, Paul Downton and James Whitaker, are terrific people and I would have backed them to deal with that.
"I think that's what the public wanted yesterday and they didn't get it."
Adams worked with Pietersen when the latter signed for Surrey and, like most at the Kia Oval, gave a ringing endorsement of his contribution at the club.
"He was excellent as a cricketer and as a personality in the dressing room," said Adams.
"We made the decision to engage him as a player in what we did without necessarily giving him the responsibility. He fully bought in to what we were doing, he was great with the youngsters and played some superb innings."