Gary Kirsten has bid farewell to India having achieved his goals as coach leaving the side as top-ranked side in Test cricket and having won the 2011 World Cup on home soil.
Former South African opening batsman Kirsten was appointed as India coach in 2008 when he took over from Chandu Borde, overseeing the team's rise to the top in both Test and ODI cricket, with first Anil Kumble and then Mahendra Singh Dhoni as his captain.
He has afforded Dhoni high praise following a match-winning innings against Sri Lanka in Mumbai, saying he is the world's best captain. Few would now disagree and likewise, few would also disagree with the statement that Kirsten is one of the world's best coaches.
He now plans some time away from the game back in his native South Africa with his family, although he is reportedly set to consider an approach from Cricket South Africa as they, like India, search for a new coach following the World Cup.
Kirsten made the following statement, which has been widely published in the Indian press following his departure:
"Tonight I leave with my wife to return home to South Africa. It has been a remarkable journey with Team India over the last three years. This will remain one of the most cherished experiences of my life.
"We set our goals as a team way back in October 2008. We wanted to become the number one ranked Test team in the world and win the World Cup. We have achieved both of these goals, and the players of both the Test team and World Cup squad can be extremely proud of this magnificent achievement.
"They have all worked really hard for a long time to improve and grow as people and as cricketers they deserved the many good wishes they are received. The weight of expectations to meet the dreams of millions bears down heavily on these young shoulders. The courage they show to go out on the field and meet these expectations has been an achievement on its own. For me personally, it has been a massive privilege to be part of Team India. I want to say that in M.S. (Dhoni), the country has one of its great leaders. It has been an honour to work with him over the last three years and I want to thank him for his support and friendship.
"To Sachin, I want to thank you for your friendship. You are the greatest sporting role model I have ever met. Your humility, your work ethic and your pure love for the game of cricket has been a pleasure to watch.
"To all the players who have played for Team India in the last three years -- in particular the World Cup and current Test squad — you have and are doing your country proud. You all take representing your country very seriously and you have all put in a massive effort for Team India to reach its goals. Congratulations on your achievement and thanks for the many cherished memories I leave with.
"To the president of BCCI, Mr. Manohar, to the secretary Mr. Srinivasan, and to all the BCCI staff, thank you for your commitment to Team India and for the support you have given me over the last three years.
"Huge thanks and appreciation must go to all the Indian support staff and in particular Paddy Upton and Eric Simmons who have stood by me during my time with the team. They deserve enormous credit for the success that Team India enjoys.
"To the Indian people — you have accepted my family and me into your beautiful country with open arms. We are honoured by this and want to thank you for this unique and amazing opportunity. The way you passionately support your team from every corner of India has been a privilege to witness and be a part of. I have made many friends in India and a huge part of my heart now remains in this incredible country—believe me when I say, this is one of the hardest goodbyes I have ever had to make, but know that I will return many times over to visit this amazing land and its beautiful people and rekindle the many friendships I have made. Know that India will always remain part of my life and future.
"My family and I wish to thank everyone in India for this amazing journey."
© Cricket World 2011