Proteas

Pace is king for Proteas boss Gibson

2018-01-09 15:00
Ottis Gibson (Gallo)

Cape Town - If the Proteas are to become the No 1 Test side in the world once more, then their fast bowling department will be pivotal. 

That is the view of national coach Ottis Gibson, who believes that quality fast bowling is the bedrock of any successful Test side in world cricket. 

As Gibson settles into his role as Proteas boss, we are beginning to learn more about his approach. 

There are two clear philosophies that have emerged so far: Gibson considers his fast bowling department his most valuable asset and he wants to see his players play positive cricket. 

The coach's near-obsession with fast bowling was highlighted by the reaction to Dale Steyn's series-ending heel injury. 

Steyn, who suffered tissue damage to his heel on day two of the Cape Town Test, has been ruled out for 4-6 weeks and he will not feature against India again this summer. 

After the first Test ended in a 72-run win for the Proteas on Monday, Gibson announced that not one, but two fast bowlers had been added to the squad for the second Test in Centurion. 

Duanne Olivier and the uncapped Lungi Ngidi have been called up, and it looks highly likely that one of them will come in for Steyn with Gibson suggesting that four specialist quicks in these conditions was likely to be the formula the Proteas use throughout the series.

"When you’re playing at home you play to your strengths and at the moment we have some high quality fast bowlers," he explained.

"You saw some good fast bowlers on both sides and from my understanding of Centurion, it’s a pitch with some pace and bounce and that will probably be the make-up of the team going forward.

"I’m a very fast bowling-minded coach and I guess we’ll always have to find a balance with whether or not we can get four fast bowlers in the team, first of all. If not, then we will try and look to shape the team in other ways.

"Ultimately, and especially in this series and for the rest of the summer, we’ll be looking to see how best we can fit four fast bowlers into whatever formula we come up with."

With both sides struggling in the batting department at Newlands, there may be a temptation to bulk up there. 

One way of doing that without disrupting the balance of the fast bowling quartet would be to leave out spinner Keshav Maharaj for Temba Bavuma at Centurion. 

Maharaj bowled just 10 overs in the Test match, even with Steyn ruled out of the second innings, and with conditions in Pretoria expected to be equally seam-friendly, it may make more sense to leave out the spinner. 

"He’s been spoken to about how we’re going to look to shape for this series and he is very much a part of it," Gibson said of Maharaj.

"With the nature of the pitch he didn’t get to operate as much as he normally does for us, but he is still a very important part of our group, whether he plays or not.

"When we get to Pretoria we will see what those conditions offer us and then we’ll pick a team, but Kesh is certainly a big part of our plans moving forward into the summer and even beyond that because he’s a world class spinner."

The second Test starts on Saturday.

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