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Losing coach Gary a massive loss

As I write this, we’re just a few hours out from our game against the Delhi Daredevils.

The Chennai Super Kings are sitting pretty at the top of the standings, level on points with the Mumbai Indians and the Rajasthan Royals, but second on net run rate. We were way out in front, but we’ve had a couple of defeats, which is par for the course in Twenty20 cricket.

Importantly, we’re still in with a chance of finishing first or second, which is crucial because it reduces the number of games you have to play in the playoffs and gives you a better chance of getting to the final.

No games yet for me, but no surprise there as the team has been playing well and the guys in my position have been performing. Michael Hussey has been outstanding and Murali Vijay has also found some form, which is important as he’s a big player for us.

I haven’t had too much training because of the travelling and the fact the last proper session we had was rained out. So, opportunities have been limited. On top of that, the guys who are currently in the side get priority at net training, so I have to wait my turn, which is fair enough.

So, I’ve just made sure the back gets even stronger and it is, because I’ve had eight weeks, instead of six, to rest it and get it strong. With a long season ahead, it’s great that I’ve got the back in good condition.

Lifestyle wise, there’s been a lot of travelling as we’ve been on the road for 10 days and had a few away games. It’s nice to shake things up and get away from our base at the team hotel in Chennai, but the travelling is also quite tiring.

What was nice was being able to catch up with Dale Steyn and Quinton de Kock when we played the Sunrisers Hyderabad. The night before the game, we booked a table at the local Hard Rock Café and enjoyed dinner there.

The owners were great, reserving us a private area. We seemed to attract a bit of attention and the staff were great in managing all the photo requests, letting us finish dinner first. None of us minded. It was probably a bit of an eye-opener for young Quinton, but for Dale, as one of the biggest names in world cricket, it was nothing new and he took it in his stride.

Away from India, it’s been a big week in terms of the news concerning Gary Kirsten and Graeme Smith. I feel for Graeme, as he’s out now with an ankle injury and will miss the Champions Trophy.

In terms of Gary, I'm very disappointed. He’s done so much for our team in the last 16 months or so and I know he also had a vision for us going forward. That being said, I totally understand where he’s coming from.

You could see last year, when he stepped down from coaching the T20 side, that he needed to spend time with his family, and obviously family comes first. With the schedule being hectic, he would have to spend a lot of time away from his family if he’d renewed his contract.

It’s a massive loss for us, but I’m also very glad that Russell Domingo has got the job. He’s definitely the right guy for the job and he fits in well with what we want to achieve as a team.

He’s also been around for the last two years and understands what we need to do well. As players, the most important thing for us is to feel good in the camp and Russell understands that feeling and how it works. I don’t think Russell will change too much, but I’m still excited to see what he brings to the job.

I was asked if I was disappointed not to get more out of Gary, as he was only with us for a relatively short time and my answer was ‘yes’. I really enjoyed working with Gary.

It’s nice as player when you can speak to someone like Gary, who – and there’s not a lot of them around – has played 10 years of international cricket and understands the technical challenges that a batsman faces, as well as the mental side of things.

Gary was very good with that and it was a strength of his as a player – he openly said he wasn’t the most talented, but he understood exactly what needed to be done. I am disappointed as I would like to have continued walking a path with him, especially to that next World Cup as that was what he was building towards.

However, I completely understand where he’s coming from. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Gary pop up at an IPL team, as it’s only about six or seven weeks of your year and it will give him the time to spend with his family.

I wish him well and thank him for his time as coach of the Proteas.

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