SA cricket’s new sheriff is in town

Cape Town - South African cricket's new sheriff is in town. Ottis Gibson was unveiled as the Proteas' new coach across all three formats in Johannesburg on Tuesday and his goal is simple: take the Proteas back to the top of the pile in world cricket and win the World Cup in 2019.

Easier said than done.

This Proteas side has struggled recently, particularly on their seemingly never-ending tour of England where they lost T20, ODI and Test series and also failed to get out of the groups stages at the ICC Champions Trophy.

There are concerns over player depth with a strong group of seasoned Proteas now well into their 30s.

Gibson, who describes himself as ‘fun-loving’, hadn’t been in the hot-seat for five minutes before he challenged those senior players.

“I’m lucky in a sense because the Proteas have been to No 1 in the world on a few occasions,” he said.

“We have people in the team who know what it takes to get to No 1. The key now is to see if those guys still have the passion to get that back.

“We have quality senior players, but are those quality senior players invested in getting back to the top again?”

His captain in all formats will be Faf du Plessis, and Gibson confirmed that he had already had a few chats to the skipper over the phone.

Gibson may have spent time in South Africa playing in the 90s, but the political landscape in the country has changed since then and there certainly wasn’t the emphasis on transformation that there is now.

It wasn’t long before Gibson was asked how he saw himself fitting into those unique demands.

“I’m very much aware of the transformation issues and certainly when it comes to picking support staff that will also be a part of it,” he confirmed.

“I’ve been given the backing of CSA to pick what I consider to be the best people to take the team where I want to take it.”

On team selection, Gibson suggested he would have a limited role.

“That process (transformation) has been happening since before I got here so there is no need, really, for me to go into that as far as selection is concerned.

“We will continue to go on the path that we are. It seems that the chairman of selectors and captain have got a handle on that.”

Gibson will become the first foreign coach of the Proteas since Bob Woolmer.

“That sounds like a lot of pressure,” he joked.

“I’m inheriting a very good team, so that gives me an opportunity to let the players lead while I find my feet, if you like.”

First up for the man who guided the West Indies to a World T20 title in 2012 is a two-Test series against Bangladesh, and he will have to go into battle without Vernon Philander, Chris Morris, Dale Steyn and probably Heino Kuhn.

“I don’t want to get into a situation where we think this is an easy series,” he warned.

“We saw how Bangladesh played against Australia and I was in Bangladesh when they won a Test match against England as well. Bangladesh is becoming a very confident international team.” DM


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