Unless there is a drastic turn of events, Gary Kirsten has taken part in his last bilateral series as India's coach. A senior BCCI official confirmed that Kirsten has expressed to the board his desire to not extend his coaching contract with India because of family commitments. In all likelihood, the World Cup will now be his last assignment with India.
"It is a topic that has been discussed at length for a long time. I can confirm that he will not continue his coaching assignment with India after the World Cup," the official said. "Everyone was keen that Gary continue for another term, perhaps of three years. The team and the coach have developed an excellent rapport over the last three years. Everyone can see the results, which are obvious. Gary has also put in a lot of effort behind the scenes to bolster team spirit and oneness among the unit. We must respect his decision, especially because it is based on family commitments."
The official said that the task of identifying a successor will be an important one because while "his legacy will benefit the successor", Kirsten's will be big boots to fill for any coach. India rose to their much-cherished No. 1 ranking in Tests under Kirsten's watch, and developed a habit of often coming back from dire situations.
That Kirsten is unlikely to continue after the World Cup doesn't come as a big surprise. He has previously spoken of wanting to spend more time with his family, and India's captain MS Dhoni, had also said that the team would respect Kirsten's choice. The three years that Kirsten has spent with India have been hectic, and have hardly given him time to be with his family - he has a wife and two growing sons. "Of course," Dhoni said before the start of the series, when asked if India were trying to do everything within their powers to make Kirsten stay. "But what you also need to see is he has been part of the Indian cricket team for the last three years. His family - Joshua is a growing kid right now and James is a young kid too [both Kirsten's sons] - which means Gary wants to spend time with his family. That will be the most crucial thing apart from the money aspect.
"He has given [the Indian team] whatever he could, the best he could, and of course it was a pleasure to have him in the side, but then again it is a decision he will have to take. More than the cricketing part, it will be his family that will have a real impact on the decision."
Media reports have - over the series - linked Kirsten with a job closer to home, coaching the South African side, who too will be without a coach after the World Cup. Those speculations gained momentum, especially when CSA extended its deadline for applications for the coaching job from January 7 to February 18. However, Kirsten is not quite likely to go looking for another international job that soon, according to sources.
Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo