JOHANNESBURG - Ottis Gibson will face the same mountainous expectation that every other Proteas coach has when he takes over as South Africa’s head coach: win the Cricket World Cup.
In Gibson’s case the pressure will be even larger given that Cricket SA have set aside making a local appointment - with inexperience being a major factor - thus ignoring the socio-political demands so imperative for any South African sports federation.
48-year-old Gibson, who will arrive in the country in the middle of next month to start preparations for South Africa’s two Tests against Bangladesh, can at least point to an ICC trophy (the 2012 World T20 when he oversaw the West Indies) amongst his achievements, something no South African team has managed in any ICC event.
Gibson, who will vacate his position as England’s bowling coach at the end of the current Test series with the West Indies, emerged as the best candidate for the position following the establishment of a selection panel chaired by Board member Norman Arendse and which included former national team coaches Gary Kirsten and Eric Simons.
“There is new thinking that we are bringing into the country,” said Cricket SA’s chief executive, Haroon Lorgat.
“Ottis has had a good run, both with the West Indies and England. He played a fair amount of cricket in South Africa; he’s familiar with South Africa, he understands the strategic imperatives that we as a country and a cricket federation face."
@OdgibsonOttis congrats coach 🙌🏼 all the best
Gibson had playing stints with Border, Griqualand West and Gauteng between 1998 and 2001 and had two spells as England’s bowling coach; first from 2007 until 2010 when he took the West Indies coaching job. He returned to the ECB in 2015.
“I am delighted to embark on this new chapter in my coaching career and I would like to thank Cricket South Africa for giving me this opportunity,” Gibson said. “I have spent a number of happy times in South Africa as a player and I am now looking forward to return as a coach.”
Gibson’s contract with CSA will run until the end of the 2019 Cricket World Cup. That event looms as the most important part of his job - notwithstanding Test series this summer against India and Australia.
“The World Cup is a key consideration for us regardless of who’s the coach or captain,” said Lorgat. “In the way Ottis presented his view and the feedback we received, in terms of the respect he’s earned from players as a coach, has been very very positive.”
Lorgat said that while Gibson would be allowed full scope to appoint his assistants, CSA would frown upon it if he only picked experts from outside South Africa.
“He’ll be challenged if he went that far,” remarked Lorgat, “we would want to develop our own coaches too. We believe we’ve got enough talent in the country and it’s something that we will engage with him, if that’s his thinking.”
Congrats Ottis on the appointment. Exciting season ahead! Looking forward to it all https://t.co/RMIg7MzAnA
Meanwhile Kagiso Rabada said that while he was looking forward to working with Gibson and tapping into his knowledge, particularly from a bowling perspective, he wasn’t convinced a new coach was necessary.
“We’ve been doing well, obviously not on this recent tour to England; but that happens in cricket,” said Rabada. “I don’t think we were in a slump, we’ve had a great season. I guess right now it is a new beginning and it’s something you must be open minded about.”
Gibson’s predecessor, Russell Domingo, will take up the role as SA 'A’ coach, part of an initiative to strengthen the intellectual coaching capital within the local game.
“In my own view I felt he had a very very good run," Lorgat said. "He certainly kept the team in a great space; the culture, the way in which we played our cricket. The majority of our results were satisfactory; the most recent in England wasn’t something we enjoyed, we expected better."