25 June 2019, by: Carl Lewis

PROTEAS COACH OTTIS GIBSON – WHAT NEXT?

It’s actually quite crazy to think that with two group stage matches left for the Proteas, I’m penning a piece on the possible future of head coach Ottis Gibson.

That’s indicative of how jarringly poor South Africa have performed at the ICC World Cup 2019.

It’s pointless doing a deep dive into the World Cup with Gibson’s men playing for nothing other than trying to salvage some pride. So let’s look to the future…

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The coaching situation

Ottis Gibson is almost certain to leave his post after the disastrous World Cup campaign. It’s been well publicised that his mandate from Cricket South Africa (CSA) centred around the World Cup and with that as a reference, he has failed dismally.

South Africa quietly strolled into the tournament as the third-ranked nation in ODI cricket. This was because of five consecutive ODI series wins. Sounds very good, doesn’t it?

Those series wins require interrogation. Victory in Sri Lanka a year ago was positive. Then came a win against an out of their depth Zimbabwe, poor travellers Pakistan and a hungover (from Test series) Sri Lanka.

An away 2-1 series win in Australia also added shine to Gibson’s record. It must be noted that it was against an Aussie side reeling after the exclusion of Steve Smith and David Warner after the ball-tampering fiasco.

Gibson’s tenure had been respectable and there was definitely reasons for optimism heading into 2019. Although dark clouds hovered above the batting unit throughout.

What seemed like an innocent wobble against Sri Lanka, should have been a real cause for concern. Sri Lanka made history, becoming the first Asian side to win a Test series in South Africa, 2-0 actually, a whitewash.

The lack of intensity from that series has persisted and only compounded at the World Cup. The Proteas have looked timid in comparison to their more daring opposition.

Seven matches played; one win, a no result and five losses is nowhere near acceptable. I didn’t believe the Proteas had what it took to actually win the tournament. However, the lack of competitiveness and grit when faced with testing circumstances is inexcusable.

The team had no absolutely no response when their opposition asked probing questions. Sadly, the ‘Gibson era’ ran out of steam and lacked the necessary bite when it mattered. Serious introspection and a thorough review by CSA is necessary after this World Cup showing.

The Coaching verdict

This is the worst World Cup campaign in South Africa’s short history. Someone must be held accountable. There is definitely a case for CSA’s problems filtering down to the players being an issue. However, this is about Gibson and the coach must take a huge chunk of responsibility.

 

A change in coaching personnel is imperative for CSA and South Africa. A new mentor with a new vision is desperately required. Names that immediately spring to mind are Mark Boucher, Geoffrey Toyana, Ashwell Prince, Enoch Nkwe and Lance Klusener on the local front.

Toyana is the most experienced of the coaching group and has the pedigree having done the hard yards (successfully) in domestic cricket.

Others might point to their international experience. Like Boucher, who has silverware on his CV plus a decorated international career. He has made a very positive start to his young career at the Titans.

Former Protea Prince has got the best out of a handful of young batsmen at the Cobras. His work cannot be underestimated especially with South Africa’s batting problems. He could be a good shout as an assistant/batting coach.

A coaching overhaul is a must, unfortunately, that includes incumbent batting coach Dale Benkenstein. The former Proteas and Dolphins captain was a solid cricketer and looked a good appointment initially. Benkenstein inherited players who battled to bat for extended periods across formats. If we are honest, the batting has not looked like improving under his watch.

A long shot for the job is Gary Kristen. He remains a respected figure in world cricket having won the World Cup with India in 2011. He was also in charge of the Proteas from 2011-2013 and he might have some unfinished business. Whether he has the appetite for international cricket coaching again remains to be seen.

If CSA were to go the international route again – former Black Caps captain Stephen Fleming would be my ideal choice. His coaching body of work consists of T20 cricket mainly (Chennai Super Kings & Melbourne stars). However, players who have worked with him raved about his coaching style. In his playing days, he was labelled as one of the most innovative captains on the international circuit.

Gibson has had some really bright moments as the head coach of South Africa, however, his time will always be associated with the Proteas worst ever World Cup expedition.

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Join the discussion One Comment

  • Ophniel Molise says:

    Its best of we include Proteas legends in the coaching. The likes of Big Kallis and Garry,they know the squabbles of our dressing rooms and they will deal with that accordingly. Proteas performance at the world cup isn’t because they were really loosing but has everything to do with what happens behind closed doors of the dressing room.