POTCHEFSTROOM - Ottis Gibson is ready to pack it in and retire with a 100% winning record, he joked with the South African players after their victory over Bangladesh yesterday.
It was certainly a pleasant outing for the new coach who is having to rapidly acquaint himself with the team, which itself is in the process of assimilating some new players.
There were two debutants in the first Test, Temba Bavuma was also playing just his second Test in the No 4 spot in the batting order, Duanne Olivier was only playing in his fourth Test and even Keshav Maharaj is relatively new to Test cricket having made his debut 11 months ago.
It feels like the transitioning of the Test team is occurring rapidly, although skipper Faf du Plessis and Gibson will be looking forward to having some of the veterans back for the series against India and Australia later this season.
For now Du Plessis said, Gibson was happy - his impact has been more subtle than substantial.
“He’s trying to understand how the team works, the culture, how we go about our business. He’s observed and if there is an area he felt he could add real value then he’s done so," Du Plessis said.
Overall Du Plessis explained Gibson’s impact - limited though it has been given the short time he’s worked with the team - has been positive.
"He gives the other coaching staff the freedom to be coaches in their specific area; he trusts them to be a coach themselves in their specific roles as batting coach, or spin bowling coach,” Du Plessis said.
Du Plessis and Gibson had been in contact even before the Barbadian had been formally unveiled as Russell Domingo’s replacement, and long-term strategies for both the Test and limited-overs teams are being drawn up.
Very good team performance over the last 5 days.Special mention has to go to @keshavmaharaj16 for his 50th wicket in only 12 test matches.👌🏼— Faf Du Plessis (@faf1307) October 2, 2017
“I’ve really enjoyed working with him. He’s a guy who likes structure, similar to myself, I think we work well together," Du Plessis said.
“I’m really excited by what he’s going to do over the next two years on the bowling front. He’s enjoying this challenge. He’s got a few plans in place; at the moment from a Test cricket point of view and even one-day cricket. The ultimate goal for him is to make an impact at the World Cup.”
In the immediate future Gibson and Du Plessis will have to coax together a bowling attack for the second Test in Bloemfontein after scans confirmed Morne Morkel would be out of action for between four and six weeks after tearing a muscle on the left side of his abdomen.
Morkel will target a return to the game during the T20 Global League, which starts in November. He has been drafted by the Pretoria Mavericks.
Cricket South Africa confirmed on Monday that the Cape Cobras’ Dane Paterson had been called up to the squad as a replacement. Paterson, who has played four T20 internationals, has claimed 285 first-class wickets, in 85 matches.
He’s represented both the Cobras and Dolphins in domestic franchise first-class cricket and has picked up a total of 126 wickets at an average of 28.07.
His most recent performance in Bloemfontein is one the 28-year-old would much rather forget. In a graveyard for seamers he finished with figures of 1/102 against the Knights.
SA Squad for the second Test in Bloemfontein: Faf du Plessis (capt), Hashim Amla, Temba Bavuma, Theunis de Bruyn, Quinton de Kock, Dean Elgar, Keshav Maharaj, Aiden Markram, Duanne Olivier, Dane Paterson, Andile Phehlukwayo, Kagiso Rabada, Wayne Parnell.