Ottis Gibson fronted up to the media for a stern cross-examination of his side’s performances in the World Cup, while also dodging bombs concerning AB de Villiers, writes DANIEL GALLAN in Southampton.
The Proteas coach was asked about a range of issues, including when De Villiers had reached out to him to be included in the squad (the morning the squad was announced), and if he ever considered including him – giving an emphatic no.
Once Gibson had been put through the ringer and media officer Lerato Malekutu then mercifully changed the subject, the crosshairs caught the Proteas’ dire position of being winless from three World Cup matches, and in desperate need of a victory against the West Indies on Monday.
Has the De Villiers saga now placed more pressure on a batting unit short of runs and confidence?
‘I would want to flip it the other way and for the guys to go out and make runs and show that they are the ones who deserve to be here,’ Gibson said. ‘In the series we have won since AB left, these guys have made runs. Rassie [van der Dussen] has come in and averaged 80 before he came here. Hash was struggling, but he’s looking good. Aiden was making runs in the last series, and we were winning.
‘The message I’ve said to the players is that the World Cup is a six-week tournament. We’ve had a bad week, but we’ve got another opportunity on Monday.’
That opportunity comes in the form of Jason Holder’s West Indians, who blew Pakistan off the park in their opening game and had Australia on the ropes on several occasions without managing to land a winning blow. They are a formidable outfit with frightening-fast bowlers and destructive power hitters.
Gibson, himself a former coach of the men in maroon, knows that Monday will be anything but a walkover.
‘West Indies teams have always been dangerous,’ Gibson said. ‘They are a team that looks to attack with four fast bowlers and this one is no different. They’ve always had match winners, and I know it it going to be a tough game.’
– Gallan is a London-based freelance sports writer, follow him on Twitter: @danielgallan