Cape Town - The
merits or demerits of Cricket South Africa giving national men’s team coach
Ottis Gibson the heave-ho after fewer than two years in charge are perhaps most
fittingly discussed after the Proteas’ next, uncertain few months minus him.
should have a better idea of whether the CSA bosses had acted decisively or prematurely
over the weekend by confirming his exit … as part of a much wider, pronounced cleanout
of his support staff and others relevant to the SA team setup.
national cricket coaches having such a limited time at the tiller (he
effectively served for some 22 months) before being axed might be considered
unreasonable; perhaps just a little bit knee-jerk.
the 50-year-old Barbadian was getting better rather than worse, in overall
statistical terms, in the second year of his often rollercoaster tenure, one confusingly
marked by both some magnificent achievements and occasional muppet-status
ignominy, if you like.
When he effectively
ended the first year - it had begun with home combat against Bangladesh from
late September 2017 and finished with the tour of Sri Lanka in mid-2018 - his
overall win percentage across the three formats had been 56.25.
But by the
time of his side-lining, he had beefed it up, for what it may be considered
worth, to 63.38: under his charge, the Proteas ended up playing 71 completed
international matches in total, and winning 45 of them.
His Test win
record (played 17, won 11, lost six) was 64.70 percent, ODI win record (played
39, won 23, lost 15, one no-result) was 58.97 percent, and Twenty20
international win record (played 15, won 11, lost four) 73.33 percent.
or otherwise of those stats, of course, can be argued all day long, given how
some formats and series carry notably greater gravitas than others in the
sport, and that all coaches tend to benefit quite royally from, for example,
home series against minnow countries where clean sweeps can be commonplace and only
fatten up win percentages to a deceptive extent.
Proteas enjoyed a few of those, against the likes of Bangladesh and Zimbabwe.
the traditionally more strength-versus-strength opponents to South Africa, he
experienced a sometimes baffling range of variable outcomes.
point of the home summer before last, for example, was wonderful, successive
Test series conquests of visiting India, increasingly steelier abroad these
days, and then Australia.
Baggy Greens 3-1, even if that combat will sadly be remembered more for the visitors’
sandpaper scandal, was hugely deserved in the final analysis and flicked a
significant monkey off South Africa’s backs - they had failed on seven prior
occasions, post-isolation, to beat them in a series on our soil, and that
despite the relative peculiarity of three series triumphs Down Under in the
But then the
wheels began to come off the Proteas’ Test locomotive, a situation painfully
highlighted by successive 0-2 results (away, then home) against moderate Sri
in the domestic late summer of 2018/19, was an appalling jolt, marking the
first time any outfit from the Subcontinent had prevailed on South African
soil, and Gibson’s Proteas looked a disinterested, disorganised rabble - especially
in regard to a long-time bugbear, their batting department.
But the result
was softened just a little by the argument, however dubious some connoisseurs
might have considered it, that the big focus was really the then-looming CWC
2019, and another Proteas’ chance to finally put their major-tournament bogey
South Africa lurched to a seventh-placed finish in what was almost inarguably
their worst of eight World Cups, winning only three of their nine matches and
being officially goners weeks before the tournament ended - two of their
victories at the end of the roster (Sri Lanka, Australia) came with the horse
already having decisively bolted.
to Cricket South Africa, the brief to Gibson when he assumed control of the
Proteas had been enormously clear: we want you to end the CWC hoodoo.
the opposite instead transpired in the UK will have been the last straw in the
eyes of those - though the CSA board were apparently divided over his ongoing
suitability - who wanted him out.
The rank World
Cup flop, relatively hot on the heels of the Sri Lanka Test howlers at
Kingsmead and St George’s Park … it was probably the cocktail that “killed”
little ammunition for those who favoured his retention (in a climate where
obvious replacement candidates don’t scream compellingly from rooftops and
money is a crippling concern) was that his charges had won all of their last
four T20 series against, respectively, Zimbabwe, Australia, Pakistan and Sri
That is the
format in which South Africa will tackle their next of those infernal
multi-nation jamborees - the ICC T20 World Cup in Australia from October 2020.
But it will
be for the care of “AN Other” or “SO Else”, to borrow slightly old-fashioned
team-sheet parlance in newspapers when the occupant of a berth is uncertain, as
the head mastermind …
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