JOHANNESBURG - Cricket South Africa are finalising the details of Ottis Gibson’s contract to become the next Proteas coach, with the size and identity of his support staff among some of the issues still to be resolved.
CSA have agreed with Gibson’s current employers, the England and Wales Cricket Board, that he can join up with the Proteas after England’s Test series with the West Indies which is scheduled to end on September 11. SA will play the first of two Tests against Bangladesh in Potchefstroom on September 28, which is set to be Gibson’s first assignment.
Gibson, who has had two stints as England’s bowling coach and was in charge of the West Indies team when they won the 2012 World T20, faces an enormous workload as he settles into his new job, with the series against Bangladesh followed by marquee tours by India and Australia between January and March next year with eight Tests on the schedule.
Although he’ll have a bit of time to assess the local scene when the T20 Global League is on the go from the start of November, there are several issues which require a firm hand and some clear thinking.
Former SA captain Graeme Smith believes the new coach needs to provide the national team with stability. “There are quite a few issues that need to be resolved; AB de Villiers’ future, the team’s style of play... there is a lot on his plate,” said Smith this week.
De Villiers has stated that he wants to hold talks with CSA about his international future, which has been the cause for plenty of controversy in recent months with neither De Villiers nor CSA able to say how much Test cricket he wants to play. Morne Morkel is another who wants to talk to CSA about his future particularly as it pertains to the 2019 World Cup.
There are structural problems with the batting line up as well, with an opening partner for Dean Elgar a priority. Heino Kuhn struggled against England, averaging just 14.12 and there is an expectation that Elgar will have a new opening partner for the first Test against Bangladesh. Initially that seemed to be Aiden Markram who was part of the Proteas' Test squad in England, but given his recent returns for the SA A side in two four-day matches against India A that finished on Tuesday, Stephen Cook, who scored a century and two half centuries, may merit reconsideration by the selectors.
Gibson will also, rightly, want to look at appointing his own support staff with a local coach set to feature as a high-profile assistant.
Among the candidates for that position would be Geoffrey Toyana who was among those interviewed for the head coaching position. Toyana and Gibson were teammates at Gauteng in 2001, but while the pair haven’t spoken in over a decade it is understood that Toyana would be open to working as Gibson’s assistant.