The appointment of Ottis Gibson as the Proteas’ new head coach is akin to pressing the refresh button for the national team, says former all-rounder Jacques Kallis, but there are some important decisions awaiting the Barbadian mentor that will immediately indicate the enormity of the challenge that awaits him.
“I’ve heard many good things about ‘Oti’, I’ve never worked under him, but if the England side has employed him then you know there is something special about him,” Kallis said yesterday.
“It’s like a ‘refresh’ button has been hit. I’m excited about the season, I’m sure all the players are. There is no reason why this team can’t achieve the goals they want... the talent is there, it’s a matter of putting it together on the field.”
Gibson, who has already been in touch with the South African selectors, arrives in the country next week and has demanded all the national team players avail themselves for opening round of the Sunfoil Series starting Tuesday. The squad for the two Tests against Bangladesh will be picked thereafter.
Already there are concerns from the Titans camp about the fitness of Dale Steyn, who appears likely to miss the first round due to his shoulder injury. However Kallis, who as coach of the Cape Town Knight Riders team in the Global League T20, drafted Steyn, says he’s confident the quick bowling ace will soon be back to full fitness.
“Having chosen him for the Knight Riders I’ve kept a close eye on him... I was under a little bit of pressure from the owners asking ‘are you sure?’
“He’s busy bowling seven overs a day at the moment and doesn’t want to go into a four-day game up front. He’s worried about bowling 18 overs in a day - three times six over spells - so I think he just wants to ease into it a little bit more and make sure he’s 100 percent fit,” said Kallis.
A key objective (for Gibson) will be to find Dean Elgar an opening partner. Heino Kuhn is still out with a knee injury picked up in the fourth Test in Manchester, and it's more than likely Elgar will open with either Stephen Cook, in excellent form recently for the SA A side in a series against India A, or Aiden Markram, who many believe is a long-term solution at the top of the Proteas Test batting order.
On the subject of the defeat against England, Kallis said: "It’s a case of putting the whole package together. From what I hear it was bits of the batting which was good, bits of the bowling was good. You can’t always win but your bad days have to be less bad than what they are at the moment.”
* Financial institution Momentum has extended its sponsorship of Cricket SA to the end of the 2022 season. The sponsorship covers various junior weeks, the national club championships, the SA women’s team, the domestic One-Day Cup and being title sponsor for home ODIs.
In addition Momentum also partnered with the Jacques Kallis Foundation to form a Bursary Programme for children from disadvantaged areas. Applications for 2019: visit www.momentum.co.za