Gibson the right man for the SA job, says Simons
● A fresh approach, experience and the right man for the job: Ottis Gibson pushed all the right buttons to become South Africa’s new coach, says Eric Simons, a member of the panel Cricket South Africa appointed to find a successor to Russell Domingo.
“He’s going to bring a fresh outlook,” said Simons. “He’s got a lot of experience now, and he has coached at a number of levels. He’s coached West Indies, where he ended up losing his job. I think in that process as a coach you end up learning a lot.
“We asked a lot of questions about him — what he’s like, what his style is — and we obviously need to marry the relationship not only with him and the team but especially with the captain. I think they are going to fit well together from that perspective.
“He is a good thinker, a good planner of the game, and I think that’s what [captain] Faf [du Plessis] likes; he likes that information and that relationship is very important.”
Gibson’s appointment ahead of seasoned South Africans such as Lions coach Geoff Toyana raised questions about the quality of the skills available in the country.
Were South Africa’s coaches not good enough to step up to the international stage?
“I’m sure they are but at this stage we thought an international coach with international experience was the right mix at the right time,” said Simons.
The fact that Gibson was a foreigner — albeit someone with intimate knowledge of South African cricket, having played for three provinces in the 1990s — was, for Simons, an advantage.
“Mickey Arthur has worked well in Pakistan, Gary Kirsten did it in India, Trevor Bayliss has done well in England.
“Sometimes being able to look at it from a different perspective is refreshing.”
South Africans have spent 25 years waiting for their often highly regarded team to win a World Cup, a Champions Trophy or, since 2007, a World T20. What did the team need from their coach to take them to that level?
“Someone who has coached at an international level, someone who is going to bring fresh ideas and look at things from a different perspective.”
Simons, respected internationally for his coaching ability and a survivor of the South Africa job itself, should know of whence he speaks. We’ll see for ourselves soon enough: Gibson arrives on Monday and his first match in charge is the Test against Bangladesh in Potchefstroom, which starts on September 28.