I remember reacting with shock when I first heard that Ottis Gibson was the favourite to take over from Russell Domingo as the new coach of the Proteas.
Gibson’s international career wasn’t a distinguished one, and he was sacked as the coach of the West Indies in 2014, so I had my doubts that he was the right man to lead the Proteas into the future.
To this day, I still feel Cricket South Africa should have stuck with Domingo as he had done enough to show everyone in the country he was a worthy successor to Gary Kirsten, but that’s a topic for another day.
The Indian tour has ended, and many will feel that, despite winning the Test series 2-1, the South Africans failed as they suffered a 5-1 humiliation in the ODIs, and also lost the T20I series.
The knives are already out, and many are starting to question whether Gibson is the right man to lead the Proteas into the future, and rightly so. At times, they were horrendous in the white-ball formats, which begs the question: Where was the leadership?
But, that being said, I think it would be too soon to judge the man’s tenure after just one incoming tour, and I think the famous quote by Heyneke Meyer should be Gibson’s mantra from now on. ‘Judge me after the World Cup.’
While the cricket on show wasn’t the best from the Proteas against the Indians, Gibson showed a lot of faith in young players such as Lungi Ngidi and Aiden Markram while he had the guts to hand debuts to Heinrich Klaasen and Junior Dala.
While I completely understand why many are starting to wonder if Gibson is the right man, a lot of what went wrong during India’s visit to South Africa was due to the fact that the Proteas played a lot of their games without their big decision-makers, and players who could influence games at the drop of a hat.
Perhaps the result in the ODIs would have been different had AB de Villiers, Faf du Plessis, Quinton de Kock, and Dale Steyn been available, and the likes of David Miller and JP Duminy had been in form.
But, the players who were given an opportunity certainly made the most of it. Klaasen, who was recently named in the Test squad to face Australia next month, is one such player who has played himself into a favourable position.
Markram has long been regarded as a future captain of the side, and while he struggled against India, the experience of leading an international side will put him in good stead.
One can retort and say ‘Wait a minute, isn’t it the selectors who select players and determine who leads a side?’ Yeah, but at the end of the day, those players have to work with the coach, and Gibson has done well in that regard.
While many will feel that the current state of South African cricket is in a downward spiral, we should all look at the impressive youngsters coming through, and it’s with this in mind that I feel Gibson should be allowed more time to settle in his role before the criticism starts.
There isn’t a long time between now and the next World Cup and there won’t be a lot of white-ball cricket, but the Proteas coaching team will have picked up a lot of positives from this Indian tour.
Gibson says the future of South African cricket is a bright one. He certainly is right in that assertion. Let’s see what he can do for the next generation of Proteas stars.
Photo: Aubrey Kgakatsi/BackpagePix