Kirsten, who largely keeps to himself off the field, spoke to The Telegraph after the South African team�s workout this morning. He was candid throughout.
The following are excerpts
On having achieved a wonderful double . the maximum Test ap pearances for South Africa and the country�s highest scorer, too
It�s a nice feeling, more so as Test cricket has its position of pre eminence... Today, quite frankly, I.m only looking to play till the 2003 World Cup. It�s still some months away and I.m hoping to maintain form and fitness. (Adds grinning) Remember, I.ll be 36 then...
On his hunger for runs
I suppose you could ask this of all those who have been around for some length of time... The enjoyment factor is supreme. I mean, if the enjoyment isn.t there, the runs won.t come. Then, continuing to do well for South Africa comes into the frame, too. I don.t score runs just for myself, the runs con tribute to the South African effort.
On being among the few batsmen to excel both in Tests and ODIs
Initially, I was more a Test batsman rather than one who could quickly switch on and off from Test to oneday cricket and, of course, viceversa. Later, I consciously adapted to suit the oneday demands. The turning point for me, really, was getting a hundred in the WSC fi nals in Australia, in 1994. My selfbelief soared... I thought if I could get a hundred against Australia, I could get one against any team... Yes, I did become a different batsman after that one innings.
On switching on and off from Test to one day cricket and vice versa
Specially nowa days, it�s not a tall order as so much of cricket . both Tests and ODIs . is played. To a large extent, one automatically adjusts to the requirements of the two forms. In any case, the basics re main the same. But yes, the first Test after a oneday series can get a bit tough. Often, it becomes a bit of a strug gle... Only, by the second Test, if not the second innings itself, you get into the Testmode.
On having a liking for Indian bowling
(Laughs) I don.t know why, though I would like to point out I.ve got runs against other countries as well... Fact still is I.ve enjoyed bat ting in the subcontinent. Because of the condi tions, with wickets being flat and so on, the de mands on an opener aren.t exactly heavy...
On his preparations, particularly before a Test
Twofold: As a team, collectively, and then, individually.With the benefit of experience, I don.t do anything special on matcheve, though I must confess a touch of nervousness is there. A bit of nervousness is, I think, good for bats men as it keeps them on their toes. That we, in the South African team, have an exceptional work ethic enables us to be prepared in the way we ought to be. Indeed, I.ve never taken to a game with the thought my preparation could have been better.
On how would he describe himself as a bats man
Phew... I.m probably not the most fluent and technically correct... At the same time, once I.ve settled, I.m confident of getting a big score... I.m never short on selfbelief. What I may lack in ability, I make up with determina tion. Of course, I do like to prove people wrong, do like to come off when the odds are suppos edly very high.
On the early influences
Actually, it�s my father (Noel) who intro duced me to cricket... Having himself been a firstclass cricketer,he knew what the game was all about.Then,once I began playing, the likes of Hylton Ackerman (present South Africa A coach) and Duncan Fletcher (current England coach) had an influence... When I was in school, I would admire Graeme Pollock, Allan Lamb, Jimmy Cook...
On elder brother Peter
Oh, yes... He did have a big influence in the early years... In fact, playing together for Western Province (1989), I remember we featured in a real big partnership... It�s in spiring playing with your own brother, spe cially in cricket�s top league. How does Peter keep himself busy? Well, at the moment, he�s coach at the Western Province Academy in Cape Town.
On what goes into the making of a complete batsman
(Smiles) Everything that has gone into the making of Sachin Tendulkar! A complete batter is somebody,who excels both on the front foot and back and, just as important, can play all shots in the book.On both counts, Sachin is outstanding.
On whether he himself envies any one bats man
Not envy, but I admire Sachin and Brian Lara... I wish, though, I had Lara�s natural abil ity... Not many years ago, I would admire Allan Border... His determination, the ability to beat odds... Being a lefthander myself, I.m probably soft towards members of my club.
On the one bowler he wouldn.t like to face
Glenn McGrath...Bowls special ly well to lefthanders, doesn.t he?
On his heroes outside cricket
Andre Agassi is definitely one... I like his game, his attitude...Agassi is quite a character. Then, I follow Ernie Els. career... In fact, I myself play golf off an eighthandicap.
Finally, on why he relinquished the vicecaptaincy (1998)
I didn.t... The Board decided to look at Shaun Pollock and,where I was concerned, that was fine with me... No, I wasn.t disappointed be cause I knew my future wasn.t as South Africa�s captain. I did, however, lead the team in one Test against Pakistan... Today, I.m happy with the role I.ve got. South Africa ex pects me to contribute; I try not to disappoint.