Gary Kirsten will coach the Durban Heat in the second edition of the Mzansi Super League in South Africa.
Kirsten will be back in a coaching capacity in South Africa - a country he both played for and coached - with a wealth of experience in having handled international and domestic sides, looking to reverse the fortunes of the franchise that finished at the very bottom of the log in the inaugural MSL last year.
"I have got fond memories of playing cricket at Kingsmead and, with my wife being from these parts, she thinks it is a natural progression" Kirsten said. "It is also a great opportunity to be involved in South African cricket and when Heinrich (Strydom) gave me the call I thought it was a great chance to stay relevant in the T20 space."
"We took a shot in the dark and I gave Gary a ring and he said yes," explained Strydom, CEO of KwaZulu-Natal Cricket. "To have his knowledge and his skills on board is incredible and hopefully we will have a good, long relationship going forward.
"As a respected, humble ex-Protea player there are so many positive things that you can say about him and to have him on board is exactly what the game in South Africa needs," Strydom added. "We are extremely grateful that Gary has taken this opportunity to lead the Durban Heat."
After calling time on his playing career in 2004, Kirsten spent some time with the Warriors franchise in the Eastern Cape as a consultant batting coach and, in 2006, set up his own academy in Cape Town. In December 2007, he signed up as coach of India, winning hearts and minds with his quiet and low-profile approach to the job. After coaching India to No. 1 in Test cricket and World Cup success in 2011, Kirsten moved on to see if he could repeat the magic with his home country.
While the global title didn't come, he did firmly establish South Africa as the No. 1 team in Tests. He stood down as South Africa coach in July 2013 and, a couple of months later, was named coach of the IPL franchise Delhi Daredevils. Kirsten has been head coach of Royal Challengers Bangalore for the past two seasons, and has also filled the same role for the Hobart Hurricanes in the Big Bash League.
Kirsten's wife, Deborah, is from KwaZulu-Natal and he still holds the record for the highest Test score at Kingsmead, 275 against England in 1999, so his connection with Durban and Kingsmead is a strong one.
"For us as a franchise we want to ignite as much interest in the game as possible," Kirsten said. "The priority is obviously to win games but we want to get people behind the brand and get the spectators to feel that the Durban Heat is their team.
"It's a fantastic opportunity for me to add as much value as I can to the side that we select so that they can reach their potential," Kirsten added. "I find that every league is different and it's going to be important that we get into a rhythm early."