Ashley Giles' chances of becoming England's new director of cricket have risen sharply after the highly-rated Gary Kirsten removed himself from the reckoning because of family commitments.

Giles, already in place as England's limited-overs coach, has been the favourite to succeed Andy Flower from the outset but would have faced stern competition had Kirsten emerged as a candidate. The 46-year-old is one of the world's top coaches and boasts a glittering cv at the highest level, having guided both his native South Africa and India to No.1 in the Test rankings.

Michael Vaughan, the former Ashes-winning captain, is just one influential voice who had called on the England and Wales Cricket Board to make him an offer he could not refuse, but Kirsten cited the gruelling time demands of international cricket when he resigned from the South Africa post, making an equally exhausting job with England something of a non-starter.

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Having spoken more obliquely at the start of the week about his prior­ities not changing, Kirsten addressed the England job directly in an interview with Sky Sports News and left little doubt that it was not for him.

"I would regard any job like that as a privilege," he said, "but I gave up the Proteas job for family reasons: I want to spend more time with a young family and that certainly hasn't changed. I love cricket coaching, I love being with an international team. But unfortunately the demands of it don't suit where I want to be.

"It would have been a great challenge, it's a high-profile sport. Whenever I've toured England I've always been amazed by the following. It's a pressurised sport and I think Andy Flower over many years did an exceptional job."

Meanwhile, Richard Gould, the Surrey chief executive, is confident of coming up with a deal that would allow Kevin Pietersen to play county cricket this summer. Pietersen's existing agreement was linked to his central contract with the England and Wales Cricket Board and will expire when the terms of severance on that are finalised.

"When he played for Surrey there was no money changing hands," said Gould. "He was playing for Surrey as part of his central contract.

"Kevin is effectively now a free agent. He knows we are really keen for him to continue playing for us, and over the next week or so we will work together to make sure that happens."