SA's on a good wicket, but Ottis Gibson wants the top spot
For a man who arrived in SA just more than six months ago to occupy one of the hottest seats in the country amid mixed reaction‚ the start of Ottis Gibson’s tenure as Proteas coach has been impressive.
At the end of his 10th Test match against Australia at the Wanderers on Tuesday‚ Gibson reflected on the "enjoyable experience"‚ in which SA have won eight Tests and lost two‚ with pride.
But he was quick to point out that his team was a work in progress. "I have enjoyed my first six months and it has been quite an experience. We have won eight out of 10 Test mat-ches‚ which include two wins over India and Australia."
Since the West Indian took over from Russell Domingo in August 2017, Gibson has overseen a 2-0 series win over Bangladesh‚ victory over Zimbabwe in the one-off first day-night Test in SA‚ a 2-1 win over India and the 3-1 victory against the Aussies.
India lead the International Cricket Council Test rankings but SA are breathing down their necks in second place. Gibson said the Proteas have set their sights on a return to the top of the pile in the coming months, when they are scheduled to play Sri Lanka‚ Zimbabwe‚ Australia and Pakistan.
"The same way players set goals is the same way that coaches have set goals for the team in trying to get to number one. We know where we are in that space‚" he said.
Gibson was well received by the players when he first arrived, he said. "The guys welcomed me very well in the dressing room. Sometimes as a foreigner‚ or whatever you want to call it‚ you don’t know how it is going to go at first. I came in and I have been myself in trying to have fun and take the pressure from players.
"The dressing room is a chilled-out place‚ we are enjoying ourselves in the nets and we also play hard when we get out there on the field."
In white ball cricket‚ the Proteas beat Bangladesh 3-0 in ODIs and 2-0 in T20s but they went on to lose 5-1 to India in the ODIs and 2-1 in T20s.
Gibson‚ though‚ said he was not worried about those defeats as he wanted to have a look at fringe players.
The world’s top-ranked Test bowler Kagiso Rabada has been ruled out of the Indian Premier League (IPL) after being diagnosed with a lower back stress reaction, Cricket SA said.
Rabada was due to play for the Delhi Daredevils in the IPL, but is now in a race to be fit for SA’s two-Test tour of Sri Lanka in mid-July.
SA team manager Mohammed Moosajee said Rabada would need a month’s break from all physical activity before starting a rehabilitation programme to get him ready for that series.