The Gib­son tran­si­tion ap­pears to be on a smooth path ... Roll on Tigers

Cape Times - - SPORT - Lun­gani Zama

DUR­BAN: Ahead of the Test se­ries be­tween South Africa and Bangladesh at the end of the month, there have been sev­eral, very sen­si­ble de­ci­sions made by all par­ties con­cerned.

The first, and per­haps most per­ti­nent de­ci­sion, was that of Ot­tis Gib­son be­ing con­firmed as the Proteas’ next head coach. While it was an open se­cret, fi­nal con­fir­ma­tion of the mat­ter al­lows the team to look for­ward, and also paved the way for an­other mas­sive de­ci­sion in SA cricket to take place.

AB de Vil­liers, SA’s premier bats­man, had in­sisted that he wouldn’t make a call on his in­ter­na­tional fu­ture un­til he knew who the next coach was. The an­nounce­ment by the 33 year-old, where he con­firmed that he was avail­able to play in all three for­mats again, was a timely boost for Gib­son and the rest of the team.

Since De Vil­liers has been away, the lack of a real stroke­player has been a very ap­par­ent weak­ness in the SA line-up.

De Vil­liers also con­firmed that he would re­lin­quish the one-day cap­taincy, thus paving the way for Faf du Plessis to lead the side in all three for­mats.

Now that they have re­turned to a soli­tary leader on all fronts, the hope must be that it will cut out a lot of the con­fu­sion that comes with too many choir lead­ers. Du Plessis is uni­ver­sally recog­nised as the best man – and the most nat­u­ral can­di­date – for the job.

The lat­est de­ci­sion made around the Proteas’ camp is the re­ten­tion of the pre­vi­ous regime’s sup­port man­age­ment for the Bangladesh - also know as the Tigers. Cricket South Africa an­nounced on Wed­nes­day that as­sis­tant coach Adrian Bir­rell, bowl­ing coach Charl Langeveldt and bat­ting guru Neil McKen­zie would all stay in the picture.

Gib­son, it is un­der­stood, was con­sulted on the mat­ter, and agreed with the de­ci­sion to not dis­rupt too much else, with such a short turn­around be­tween his con­fir­ma­tion and his open­ing as­sign­ment. He will lean heav­ily on that sup­port be­fore the first Test at the end of the month.

Gib­son also looks likely to have the re­turn of Dale Steyn to look for­ward to. It has nearly been a year since the pace spear­head limped off in Aus­tralia, and this lat­est come­back is look­ing in­creas­ingly like it could be his last.

Steyn opted out of next week’s open­ing round of Sun­foil Se­ries fix­tures, and will in­stead play in a club fix­ture to gauge his fit­ness lev­els. A mas­sive sum­mer will un­furl it­self for the Proteas – es­pe­cially once In­dia kindly con­firms de­tails of their par­tic­i­pa­tion – so Steyn and his em­ploy­ers will know that a marathon ap­proach is bet­ter than a dash for the start line.

Even be­fore he sets foot in the coun­try, the Gib­son tran­si­tion ap­pears to be on a smoother path than the fi­nal months of his pre­de­ces­sor’s ten­ure. In­trigu­ingly, Rus­sell Domingo is still very much in the picture, as he will take charge of the SA A side. And so, coach­ing ri­vals in the English sum­mer have now be­come col­leagues.

Things some­times have a weird way of work­ing out.

Roll on Bangladesh.

AB DE VIL­LIERS: Back in busi­ness ...

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