Gary Kirsten to lend grit to team

15 October 2007

It seemed written in the stars that the UCT cricket first team would fluff its first game under new coach Gary Kirsten.

Chasing 160 in its season-opening one-day match against Western Province Cricket Club, UCT seemed to have the game in the bag at 100 for three with 20 overs left. But the team somehow managed to fall short of its target, finishing its 45 overs on 157 for nine.

If anything, the scene is now set for Kirsten to work his magic. As chance would have it, he was strolling around the ground with a selection of books on mental strength tucked under his arm.

"The mental aspect is such an important part of the game," he says. "We spend a lot of time on the physical aspects of the game, but the mental is often more important."

The UCT side has some of the right stuff, though. The side hovered around the relegation zone for the first part of the 2006/2007 season before rallying to finish in third place in the premier league.

In part, Kirsten, who runs his own cricket academy, volunteered his time to the UCT team because of his own fond memories playing for UCT under Duncan Fletcher, who would later coach England.

"To have that kind of influence at that stage was crucial to my career," he says.

Kirsten's as keen to see a couple of his young players make it to the provincial and even international arena. And club cricket is just the right theatre to hone their skills, he believes.

"If the structure is in place and things work out, the team could do well. And a few players could move onto the next level."

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