JOHANNESBURG - Signs of Ottis Gibson’s mark on the Proteas remain absent, just as the new head coach himself and even the players expected.
It is far too soon for Gibson to make a discernible impact.
“The early part of the job is to watch and observe, have conversations with Faf (du Plessis) but also seeing them play,” said Gibson.
He’s barely been in the country a month and the first opponents his team faced weren’t of the standard to properly examine those areas.
“When you think that the opposition is not of great quality, there’s a tendency to become complacent. The players didn’t become complacent at any stage,” Gibson said after his side had wrapped up an innings and 254-run win over Bangladesh to seal a 2-0 series win at the Mangaung Oval.
“At the start of the summer playing Bangladesh, everybody said ‘easy series’ but you still have to go and play cricket. I think we’re very pleased with the cricket we played and I said to the players if you believe the opposition isn’t that good, you must play to a specific standard and we played to a very high standard,” said Gibson.
Aiden Markram started his international career off in the manner many had hoped; a knock of 97 in the first Test was followed up with a maiden Test century in Bloemfontein.
He and the consistent Dean Elgar have the makings of a long-term partnership vital to the side’s success this summer. As Du Plessis explained, a good opening combination has a concertina effect on the rest of the batting order and though that wasn’t very apparent against Bangladesh, the fact that Hashim Amla could play with relative freedom is indicative of the effect of a good start.
Given his previous job in England, one area some were looking to for an immediate impact from Gibson was the bowling. He only got to meet Vernon Philander in a get-together one week before the first Test, Dale Steyn came to a few training sessions in Potchefstroom, while Morne Morkel did play in Potch before tearing the abdominal muscle. Kagiso Rabada, carried the mantle as the attack’s leader magnificently.
“The one thing I like about him, is that he’s very open to learning. You can see it every time on the field,” Gibson remarked. “Sometimes in the morning I mention some things to him expecting him to do it later on and then he starts doing it immediately after I’ve walked away. He’s a bit of a sponge and a great talent.”
Thank you to everyone for the positivity. Yesterday was a appreciable landmark. Onwards... ✌🏾️
Despite it being by accident rather than design, the opportunity to see some of the country’s second tier bowlers was of even greater value to the new coach.
“I thought Duanne (Olivier) was outstanding (on Sunday). One of the key things for us is when you ask a guy to do something, can he do it? And he did exactly what he was asked to do. Andile (Phehlukwayo) was the same, if you’re going to come in as a fourth seamer, you need to control length. I thought he did that and deserved his wickets.
“When you start looking at players for the future you can pencil him in for a role based on him being able to execute,” said Gibson.
On the other hand Wayne Parnell, just back from injury, needs more time to find rhythm and form. “We’ve had good practice sessions with Wayne. What I’ve said to him is that he has to be able to transfer his practice on the training ground into a match. We saw it in little phases but we need to see it more consistently.”
Gibson has still not chosen his support staff. For the series with Bangladesh he’s utilised predecessor Russell Domingo’s group, and says he hopes to finalise his assistants after the One-Day Internationals and T20s with Bangladesh are completed.