JOHANNESBURG – Ottis Gibson’s plans to tinker with South African cricket’s coaching structure may cause minor ructions for Cricket SA, but it must have been something the organisation had envisaged when they appointed an overseas coach for the Proteas.
On Monday, Gibson revealed that he’s held discussions with CSA about “key positions” he believes will make a “real difference to coaching in this country”. Essentially, Gibson is looking for a couple of high-powered local advisors who he’ll be able to depend on for tips about local players.
But while some may see that as being the role of the national selectors, it is those individuals’ coaching expertise and objectivity Gibson will be calling on.
Gibson wants Cricket SA to appoint “elite” coaches for batting and bowling that will initially help the national side, but will also prove beneficial overall to the local game.
“When we are on tour and we have a couple of injuries, I want to know who the next best fast bowler in the country is – I have a person I can go to,” said Gibson.
“At the moment if I ask that question, I’m asking that to the selectors. They are doing a great job, but they are not coaches. Sometimes you want a coach’s opinion on who the next best person might be.”
Quite where those individuals will fit into the current coaching structure in South Africa is a mystery. There are already the six franchise coaches, the SA A team coach Russell Domingo and then an Academy coach in Shukri Conrad.
All of that is overseen by CSA’s High Performance manager Vincent Barnes.
It also limits the power of the selectors. For instance, who gets the final say in the event of the selection panel and the elite coach disagreeing with each other about a player?
Gibson said he held fruitful discussions last week with most of the franchise coaches where he outlined his plans for the national team, particularly with regards to strategies for the One-Day side with an eye toward the 2019 World Cup.
“I had a really good discussion last week with most of the franchise coaches, to introduce myself, and get a message to them about what I need from them and what they may need from me as well, with regards to communication and how that communication works both ways,” Gibson explained.
“I enjoyed explaining to them my philosophy, and how I want to take, certainly the white-ball team forward to 2019, and they are fully on board with a lot of the stuff. Hopefully those relationships will continue to grow in the next 12 months.”
Gibson has provided Cricket SA with a list of candidates from which he wants to draw his new coaching staff, which he wants in place by the time the Proteas re-gather to begin preparations for the four-day Test against Zimbabwe in Port Elizabeth on Boxing Day.
Charl Langeveldt’s contract as bowling coach will not be renewed, with Gibson saying on Monday that he’d be working with the fast bowlers in addition to his role as head coach.
“Cricket SA has to make that happen,” he said about contracting his staff.
“Some (names) are from overseas, some local – I want a batting, an assistant, a fielding and a spin-bowling coach. That’s four plus me, which will make up the coaching staff.”
Gibson had been utilising predecessor Russell Domingo’s staff during the Proteas’ series’ against Bangladesh – Langeveldt, Neil McKenzie (batting), Adrian Birrell (assistant) and Claude Henderson (spin bowling).
“Over the last five weeks, I’ve been talking to various people around the country to get opinions on other coaches.
“What I’ve tried to do is use mostly the coaches who are working in South Africa, but for the most part, try and use the franchise system in a way that if I leave tomorrow, there is somebody that can take on the job and take the team forward.”