England batsman Dawid Malan has made regular visits to Gary Kirsten’s coaching academy over the years.
Malan was born in London to South African parents, and at the age of seven he and his family moved to South Africa.
He went to school at Paarl Boys’ High, studied at Unisa and played first-class cricket for Boland in the 2005-06 season before signing for London-based county Middlesex.
In June 2017, Malan made his T20I debut for England against South Africa. His Test debut, a month later, was also against the Proteas.
The 34-year-old Malan and captain Joe Root have fought a lone battle for England with the bat in the current Ashes series.
Malan made 82 in Brisbane and 80 in Adelaide.
In the latest issue of Wisden Cricket Monthly magazine, editor-in-chief Phil Walker reveals that Malan considers Kirsten his “first hero” and that the former Proteas batsman and coach’s academy has been a “safe place … [on] annual pilgrimages” for the England batsman.
“Every time he came back home over a period of seven/eight years he’d come and see me and ask to do a few sessions,” Kirsten told the magazine.
“I didn’t mind, because I always saw in him the determination he had to take his game to the highest level – even though he was seen as an outcast in South Africa, and he’d made this significant move to head off to this big world of cricket in the UK.
“South African to South African, we warmed to one another … he felt a sense of comfort with me.
“Every player has vulnerabilities in his game; it’s just how you manage it.
“He’s very clear in terms of the areas that the opposition will try to exploit. He’s very clear where his off-stump is, and if he’s going to score through the off-side then he needs to be on top of the ball, and he’s very clear on that.
“For me, more than most players I’ve worked with, he’s got some really good thinking around all the different deliveries he’s going to face in the match … I genuinely think he’s got his best years ahead of him.”