Former South Africa batsman to join team in Australia December 4, 2007

Kirsten signs deal to coach India



Gary Kirsten, the new India coach, will join the team in their Australia tour for the third and fourth Tests © Getty Images

Gary Kirsten has signed a two-year deal to coach the Indian national team. He will start work on March 1, 2008, almost a year after his predecessor, Greg Chappell, resigned from the post.

Kirsten signed the contract after clarifying a few last-minute details pertaining to his young family and also to the feelings of senior players in the team who had been anonymously quoted as saying that the appointment of a coach was "unnecessary."

Sharad Pawar, the Indian board president, told Kirsten on Tuesday afternoon that all the senior players were looking forward to having him on board and agreed with Kirsten's suggestion that he meets up with the team before they depart for Australia.

"I will go back to India soon to meet up with the squad before they fly to Australia on December 17 and then I will join them again in a transition phase for the third and fourth Tests against Australia in the New Year," Kirsten said. The Indian board, in a press release, has confirmed that Kirsten would interact with the squad during the third Test against Pakistan in Bangalore.

"It is a huge honour and I'm looking forward to the challenge with as much enthusiasm as any challenge I've ever faced. I'm not naive - I know how big the job is and I know it won't be easy, but it's also something I really want to do, and do well," Kirsten said.

When Kirsten takes over full-time, his first assignment will be a three-Test series against South Africa. "That's exciting. I really don't think it will feel strange or odd. I will be doing everything I can to help India win. But Australia comes first and everybody's energy must be focussed on producing success on what is the hardest tour in cricket," Kirsten said.

Neil Manthorp is a South African broadcaster and journalist, and head of the MWP Sport agency

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