Cricket South Africa’s Board of Directors will hold yet another meeting Thursday as it seeks finality over the future of Ottis Gibson as the Proteas head coach.
The Board held a meeting last week, where it pored over reports submitted by Gibson, skipper Faf du Plessis and the national team’s manager Mohammed Moosajee regarding the failed World Cup campaign but no final decision was reached. Instead it is understood that the Board is deeply divided over Gibson’s future – half want him to stay, the other half want him out when his current contract ends in September.
On two occasions earlier this year, Cricket SA’s chief executive Thabang Moroe, gave different targets that had been stipulated in Gibson’s contract; initially the former West Indies international, was said to have a clause in his contract that stipulated he had to win the World Cup but Moroe later changed that comment, saying it would be good enough if Gibson reached the final.
Neither happened of course as the Proteas endured their worst World Cup campaign, winning just three out of nine matches, with their semi-final hopes all but ended with two weeks of the tournament still to run.
Those on the Board pushing for Gibson to be moved on have argued that such a poor performance should be enough for Cricket SA to engage in a search for a new coach. However those Board members batting for Gibson have pointed out that 18 months, and virtually having to start from scratch in terms of team selection, was insufficient time to put together a cohesive unit. In addition the raft of injuries that struck the team in England put paid to the Proteas’ main strategies, further hampering their performance.
There is also unhappiness about how hard Cricket SA worked to ensure that the team’s leading players were back from the Indian Premier League in time to begin World Cup preparations. The squad only had a one week training camp before leaving for the tournament, with the likes of Du Plessis, Quinton de Kock and Imran Tahir only arriving in South Africa the night before the camp started, because they all played in the IPL final.
Kagiso Rabada’s below par displays were put down to his body having had to carry a heavy toll during that IPL and he was only called back from the competition because the team’s medical staff could prove he had a back ailment.
And while the Board grapple with those issues they also need to apply their minds to the appointment of a Director of Cricket a position that has been created with the primary aim of seeing all the national teams improve. That person will also be responsible for drawing up a comprehensive strategy to ensure a better performance from the Proteas men's team at the 2023 World Cup and as such he or she will want a say in whatever moves are made regarding the team’s head coach.
The Board can no longer put a decision regarding Gibson on hold. Time is against it, with the Proteas set to leave for India in five weeks for a three-match Test series, that will be the Proteas’ first foray into the newly established World Test Championship.