Johannesburg - After Cricket SA’s (CSA’s) announcement that they would be retained until the end of Bangladesh’s tour of the country, the Proteas’ support staff are effectively on trial on two fronts to prove their worth after Ottis Gibson’s appointment as the team’s head coach.
With Gibson arriving tomorrow to begin his two-year tenure, Russell Domingo’s old lieutenants – who include Neil McKenzie (batting), Charl Langeveldt (bowling) and Claude Henderson (spin consultant), among others – find themselves with two tests, three one-day internationals and two T20 games to prove themselves to CSA and their new West Indian boss.
The stay of execution for the support staff is something of a compromise between Gibson – who is understood to be keen to work with South African staff, but has his own people waiting in the wings – and CSA, which also has its own candidates in mind for the posts.
A CSA insider said that, in negotiations for his support staff, Gibson said he wanted to work “with the best there is as far as available South Africans, but, if that is not possible, he has one or two other people he would like to work with”.
“We have preferred candidates, but the coach’s contract says he has the right to select his own staff,” said our source.
Should the incumbent backroom staffers prove to be what Gibson is looking for, their reprieve from following Domingo as expected will be complete.
But the official revealed that CSA was underwhelmed by the idea of carrying on with the current assistant coaches: “It doesn’t make sense to keep the same support staff if the team is not reaching its milestones. We should rather keep people who are pulling their weight.
“It might sound harsh, but these are the same people who failed to help the Proteas get over the line.”
The people CSA has in mind include Lions coach Geoff Toyana, who was considered a favourite when the search for Domingo’s replacement commenced about seven months ago, but was deemed not to be ready by the panel charged with finding a new coach.
The basic idea there would be to have Toyana shadow Gibson for the next two years so he will be well placed to replace him after the Cricket World Cup, when the current senior players are expected to be gone and the Proteas rebuild afresh.
“We’d like him to employ South Africans; we’d like to open opportunities for people who have improved in the system,” said our source. “But we wouldn’t like to impose on the coach as he has the right to choose who he wants.”