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Wishing Ottis well





It came as no surprise that Ottis Gibson was appointed as the national coach this week. The team is in need of a different approach that will challenge the players. The previous coaching team had mixed results.

A lack of success at ICC events and a downturn in form over recent months necessitated a change. CSA has to be applauded that they were prepared to look outside the country in an effort to find a candidate who is likely to demand more from the players and has no baggage.

Gibson was by far the most suitable candidate for the job out of the applicants for the role. He understands the South African system, having played in South Africa for several years. He brings international coaching experience to the team, having been head coach of the West Indies and bowling coach for England.

The experience he picked up as head coach for the West Indies team will stand him in good stead. He found himself under pressure there on a number of occasions in difficult circumstances in a coaching situation that wasn't easy. He had to deal with a player transition there much the same as he will have to in South Africa going forward.

A further good decision from CSA is the fact that they will allow Gibson to determine his own support staff. Gibson himself brings bowling expertise to the equation. He will be wise to cut down on a support staff that was far too big in recent times. Like a head coach, support staff have a shelf life as well, and it is always good for a new coach coming in to surround himself with people whom he trusts and has confidence in, rather than inherit a situation that may have gone stale.

The idea of involving experts is for them to make specific contributions at key times. The support staff should also be released at times to work with players outside the squad group in order to get them ready when they are called up. They can be utilised well in this way rather than travel with the team at times when their expertise isn't really needed while on the road.

I know Gibson well, having played with him and he has always been his own man. He will need to be just that to bring South Africa through this transition period. The modern coach walks a fine line between giving the players free rein but not to the point where the tail wags the dog. He has to find that balance early in his tenure and stamp his authority on the team.

As a coach it is important to start well and make the players understand your coaching style. Gibson has time on his side to do that. The only international cricket left this year is against Bangladesh in October, which is a series across all formats. If South Africa were going to Bangladesh it would have been a significant challenge but a series at home, against opponents who have improved but should not challenge the Proteas, is a soft start for the new coach. This should give him time to find his feet.

However, once the new year arrives, with India and Australia as international opponents, the honeymoon will be well and truly over. Gibson faces a formidable challenge to win ICC events and restore South Africa to the team we know they can be. At this time, we wish him well.


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