Former South African batsman Gary Kirsten flies in for England job interview after talks with ECB chief Ashley Giles
Gary Kirsten is due to arrive in London on Tuesday keen to persuade the ECB that he is the right man to succeed Trevor Bayliss as England’s head coach.
The 51-year-old South African is understood to be confident of netting a job that could earn him as much as £1million a year for three years, with the option of carrying on until England defend their World Cup trophy in India in 2023.
The ECB’s managing director of men’s cricket, Ashley Giles, is eager to name Bayliss’s successor as soon as possible — maybe as early as this week — though whether Kirsten is appointed will depend on an interview with the board on Wednesday.
Gary Kirsten wants the chance to build on successful stints in charge of India and South Africa
Test career: 101 caps
Runs: 7,289 at 45.27 (fifth on South Africa all-time list)
High score: 275 v England at Durban in 1999
South Africa (2011-13)
Hobart Hurricanes (2017-18)
Royal Challengers Bangalore
PS Only Steve Smith and Don Bradman have scored more double centuries against England than Kirsten’s two.
But Sportsmail understands that Kirsten and Giles have already discussed the details of the role. And if Giles is convinced Kirsten should fill Bayliss’s boots, it would give him the chance to build on successful stints in charge of India and his native South Africa.
Should he be appointed, Kirsten would not begin until this winter’s tour of South Africa, which starts with a warm-up game in Benoni on December 17 — a day after his involvement ends with Durban Heat in South Africa’s T20 Mzansi Super League.
And that would mean England’s fast-bowling coach Chris Silverwood remains favourite to take charge of the side for the tour of New Zealand, which begins later this month and includes five T20 games and a pair of Tests.
The fact that the backroom staff includes the likes of Silverwood, Paul Collingwood and Graham Thorpe is understood to be key to Kirsten’s enthusiasm for the job.
When he was in charge of South Africa, between 2011 and 2013, he and his wife Deborah tried to spend no more than 40 nights away from each other at a stretch. And while Kirsten’s three children — aged 15, 12 and seven — are older now, he has been encouraged by Giles’ plans to allow the new head coach breathing space in an increasingly packed fixture list.
The 51-year-old South African is understood to be confident of netting the England job
Kirsten has also been reassured by going through the Future Tours Programme with Giles for the next two years, allowing him to plan his schedule.
He would have to relinquish his role as coach of Welsh Fire, the Cardiff-based team for next year’s 100-ball competition. But his recent sacking as coach of IPL franchise Royal Challengers Bangalore frees him up for the early part of the English summer.
His signing would be a real coup for the ECB, who need a big-name replacement for Bayliss as they try to build a Test team capable of regaining the Ashes in Australia in 2021-22.
ECB managing director Ashley Giles is eager to name Trevor Bayliss’s successor
Kirsten led both India and South Africa to the top of the Test rankings, and also took India to World Cup success at home in 2011. In 2012, his South Africa side, led by Graeme Smith, skilfully took advantage of disarray in the England camp following the revelation that Kevin Pietersen had been texting members of the opposition to beat Andrew Strauss’s side 2-0 — a result that prompted Strauss’s resignation as captain.
With Giles keen to get England’s Test cricket back on track after an inconsistent couple of years, Kirsten’s five-day pedigree in his playing days may also count in his favour.
In 101 Tests, most of them as an opener, he scored 7,289 runs at an average of 45 — including a career-best 275 to thwart England at Durban in 1999-2000 after they had enforced the follow-on. One of his two other Test double-hundreds was also against England, 210 at Old Trafford in 1998.
Since one of the criticisms of captain Joe Root’s Test team is that players have mislaid the ability to bat for long periods of time, Kirsten could be just the role model a new-look top order needs.