Cometh the time, the Proteas must rise again
LONDON – There will be no hysterics from Ottis Gibson in the Proteas dressing room over the next couple of days. That he will leave to “I’m certainly not Mr Nice Guy” captain Faf du Plessis.
Gibson will instead look to motivate, cajole, and try to rebuild the fragile confidence of a group of players that seem shell-shocked after two defeats at this World Cup.
So what exactly is the message that Gibson will be conveying to his charges?
“You keep telling them how good they are, you go back to our best experiences,” Gibson said.
“We’ve won eight or nine of our last 10 games, with the guys in the dressing room you keep reminding them of that and keep showing them what they’ve done in our recent history.”
“There’s no anger in me,” he added. “It’s cricket we’re playing, and in sport there’s nothing that says you are going to win because you might be the favourite. We just need to put it together and we know we can put it together.
“If we can get it together in the next week or the next game and we start to get some momentum, it will give us a lot of confidence.
“You don’t become a bad team overnight because you lost two games. That’s the message.”
If there is someone who could benefit from an arm around the shoulder instead of a rollicking right now it's Kagiso Rabada.
Thus far in the World Cup South Africa’s spearhead has been a shadow of the bowler that has terrorised batting line-ups all around the world over the past few years.
The exertions of the Indian Premier League, where Rabada was the leading wicket-taker until teammate Imran Tahir pipped him at the post, may be taking its toll on the 24-year-old, but the Proteas desperately need their talisman firing on all cylinders, especially with the juggernaut Indian batting line-up waiting here in Southampton.
“He’s not striking, not taking wickets like we know he can,” Gibson said. “I’m sure he’s hurting because he doesn’t want to be the best bowler in South Africa, he wants to be the best bowler in the world.
“At the moment, when he sees the impact Jofra Archer is having, people like that, I am sure he will want to have his own impact and leave his own mark on the World Cup. There’s still time,” Gibson said.
Rabada definitely won’t have Ngidi on the other end to help him attack the likes of Virat Kohli, Shikhar Dhawan and Rohit Sharma. And he is unlikely to have Dale Steyn either.
Gibson did not want to dwell on the negatives for too long though. Instead he pointed out that even the best get knocked down - like English heavyweight boxer Anthony Joshua - but they find ways to get up again.
“Look at Anthony Joshua last night, he was the favourite and he got put on the floor.
“I’m sure he’s going to get up and go on to his next fight, and probably win. We must look at that, get ourselves up off the floor, dust ourselves off and put our best game out on the field.
“Losing early isn’t always a bad thing when you are learning and improving,” he said.
“Because when you lose in the last week, you’re going home. At the moment we’ve lost two games and were hurting, but we still have the opportunity to play better.
“If you are going to lose, it’s better to lose now than in the first week of July.@ZaahierAdams