New Proteas coach Ottis Gibson. Photo: Supplied
New Proteas coach Ottis Gibson. Photo: Supplied
Faf du Plessis (left) and AB de Villiers. Photo:Andrew Cornaga / www.photosport.nz
Faf du Plessis (left) and AB de Villiers. Photo:Andrew Cornaga / www.photosport.nz

DURBAN - Ahead of the Test series between South Africa and Bangladesh at the end of the month, there have been several, very sensible decisions made by all parties concerned.

The first, and perhaps most pertinent decision, was that of Ottis Gibson being confirmed as the Proteas’ next head coach. While it was an open secret, final confirmation of the matter allows the team to look forward, and also paved the way for another massive decision in SA cricket to take place.

AB de Villiers, SA’s premier batsman, had insisted that he wouldn’t make a call on his international future until he knew who the next coach was. The announcement by the 33 year-old, where he confirmed that he was available to play in all three formats again, was a timely boost for Gibson and the rest of the team.

Since De Villiers has been away, the lack of a real stroke-player has been a very apparent weakness in the SA line-up. De Villiers also confirmed that he would relinquish the one-day captaincy, thus paving the way for Faf du Plessis to lead the side in all three formats.

Now that they have returned to a solitary leader on all fronts, the hope must be that it will cut out a lot of the confusion that comes with too many choir leaders. Du Plessis is universally recognised as the best man - and the most natural candidate - for the job.

The latest decision made around the Proteas’ camp is the retention of the previous regime’s support management for the series against Bangladesh - also know as the Tigers. Cricket South Africa announced on Wednesday that assistant coach Adrian Birrell, bowling coach Charl Langeveldt and batting guru Neil McKenzie would all stay in the picture.

Gibson, it is understood, was consulted on the matter, and agreed with the decision to not disrupt too much else, with such a short turnaround between his confirmation and his opening assignment. He will lean heavily on that support before the first Test at the end of the month.

Gibson also looks likely to have the return of Dale Steyn to look forward to. It has nearly been a year since the pace spearhead limped off in Australia, and this latest comeback is looking increasingly like it could be his last.

Steyn opted out of next week’s opening round of Sunfoil Series fixtures, and will instead play in a club fixture to gauge his fitness levels. A massive summer will unfurl itself for the Proteas - especially once India kindly confirms details of their participation - so Steyn and his employers will know that a marathon approach is better than a dash for the start line.

Even before he sets foot in the country, the Gibson transition appears to be on a smoother path than the final months of his predecessor’s tenure. Intriguingly, Russell Domingo is still very much in the picture, as he will take charge of the SA A side. And so, coaching rivals in the English summer have now become colleagues.

Things sometimes have a weird way of working out. Roll on Bangladesh.

Cape Times

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