TELFORD VICE in Cape Town
OTTIS Gibson had his first day on the job as South Africa’s coach on Tuesday, and there are only nine more days before the start of the test series against Bangladesh. What does Gibson need to do with that time?
Watch some cricket
The domestic scene is a long way from what it was when Gibson marked out his run-up for Border, Gauteng and Griqualand West in the 1990s.
Reducing the number of teams playing in the top flight and creating the franchise system was supposed to strengthen and professionalise the game in this country. Instead the umbilical cord between domestic cricket and the international scene has been all but cut.
Gibson says he will be see some action in the opening round of franchise first-class matches, which started on Tuesday. Good. He will have a better idea of what he’s dealing with, and what he’s up against.
Don’t watch rugby
Gibson has owned up to watching the Springboks’ risible impression of an international rugby team in their 57-0 shellacking by the All Blacks at the weekend. Stop right there, coach. Don’t you go wasting your time on any more of that nonsense.
Cricket in this country has its problems, but it doesn’t have rugby’s. Gibson and many others who wasted their 80 minutes on the Boks would have been forgiven for wondering if they were throwing the game.
South Africa were poor in England this winter. Gibson, who served as England’s bowling coach, knows that only too well.
But there remains a hardness at South Africa’s centre — and that has apparently been drummed out of their rugby equivalent — that Gibson would do well to acquaint himself with as soon as possible.
Find some fast bowlers
No Dale Steyn. No Vernon Philander. No Chris Morris. All are out with injuries. At this rate Gibson might be tempted to dig deep in his luggage for a set of whites from his own fast bowling days and suit up.
Easy tiger. South Africa has never been short of quality quicks and with Morne Morkel, Kagiso Rabada, Duanne Olivier, Beuran Hendricks, Dane Paterson, Andile Phehlukwayo and Junior Dala to pick from — and Lungi Ngidi almost back from injury — the home side shouldn’t struggle to test the Bangladeshi batsmen.
Have a drink with Faf
If a cricket team was a ship it would sail or sink on the quality and depth of the relationship between captain and coach.
South Africa are fortunate — or did they plan it this way? — that both Gibson and Faf du Plessis are thoughtful and easygoing okes with plenty of space in their personalities for differing points of view. So it isn’t difficult to imagine them getting along.
Conventional wisdom says one of those personalities needs to be bigger for the relationship to work properly. Right now the stronger partner would seem to be Du Plessis.
Gibson says he has already talked steak and red wine with Du Plessis. Best they go out for dinner sharply like.
Have a coffee with Hash
No-one in cricket is more revered than Hashim Amla, who brings to the game much more than a peerless ability to play it. But, in the most cruel analysis, how well cricketers play is the only measure that matters.
Amla has reached a century only once in his last 25 completed innings for South Africa across all formats.
His gift for playing the unplayable delivery to parts of the ground it has no right to be played to, and for days on end, would seem to be fading.
Amla is 34 and he has a young family — he has a life beyond cricket. So how much does he have left in the tank?
Gibson needs to know.