Cape Town: Gary Kirsten has proved to be a coach with a golden touch, firstly with India and now with South Africa.
He took India to number one in Test cricket and they won the 2011 World Cup in his last assignment with the world's most populous cricket nation.
In less than two years with South Africa he has seen the country of his birth become entrenched as the best in the world in Tests. Now there is the challenge of forging a dominant one-day team.
"We would like to perform at a higher level than we have in one-day cricket," Kirsten said as he looked ahead to a three-match series against New Zealand, starting in Paarl on Saturday.
"We've been okay but we haven't been outstanding." Being "okay" is not good enough for Kirsten. "We believe that we are capable of being a unit that can really perform at one-day level," he said.
England's defeat by India in the second one-day international in Kochi on Tuesday meant that South Africa gained the number one spot on the International Cricket Council rankings, although South Africa, England, India and Australia are tightly bunched at the top.
Kirsten is well aware that simply being top of a fluctuating ranking list is not enough for supporters who are frustrated by the country's repeated failures in ICC tournaments.
South Africa want to do well in the Champions Trophy in England in June but the ultimate prize is the World Cup in Australia and New Zealand in 2015.
     "Winning one of these events is more important in South
Africa than in other countries," Kirsten said.
"We have a great opportunity this year. We have potentially 23 one-day internationals this year and there will be a lot more emphasis on ODI cricket, which everyone is excited about."
Kirsten said the first priority against New Zealand, who they face in Paarl in the first of three one-dayers from Saturday, was to win the series.


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