Whatever you think of Ottis Gibson’s appointment as South Africa’s coach he knows why he’s been hired.
“That’s been a massive part of how CSA (Cricket South Africa) pitched the job‚” Gibson said at a press conference in London on Tuesday.
“Every team wants to win a global tournament.
« South Africa has never won one and that’s obviously one of their big things.
“You look at South Africa‚ you look at the players that they potentially [can] put on the field and there’s no reason why they can’t win the World Cup in 2019‚ here in England.
“That would be something great for me as a coach but more than that‚ great for the country.
« They have a very strong sporting culture in South Africa so to be able to do something like that would be amazing.”
Gibson will have keen insights into South Africa’s trophylessness having played for Border‚ Gauteng and Griqualand West in the 1990s — and from guiding a West Indian team in deep decline to triumph at the 2012 World T20.
“When I went back to the Caribbean we had the makings of a great team‚” he said.
“We had all the players — the IPL (Indian Premier League) superstars and all that — but we had never won a T20 World Cup.
“There are a lot of things that I learnt from that situation and it’s important that everybody that’s involved is wanting the same thing and ultimately everybody wants the team to win.
“I believe when CSA did their search for a coach they felt I could be a person that would come in there and take the team forward.”
Had he considered circumstances peculiar to South African cricket — using transformation to find the best players and absorbing the loss of those who choose Kolpak over country — before agreeing a deal?
“Every player would say he is making a decision for his family and when people say that they don’t think they can get an opportunity and move on there’s not a lot that me as a coach can do‚ and that’s something for CSA to look into‚” he said.
“My job is to try and work with the players that are there‚ to try and make sure they are ready to win matches for South Africa.”
Gibson saw parallels in the drain of players from South Africa and a West Indian team that‚ despite their lack of big names‚ fought back to level their series in England and go into the last match with a chance to win the rubber.
“We said because we didn’t see [Brian] Lara‚ [Curtly] Ambrose‚ [Courtney] Walsh — we didn’t see the household names on the team sheet — we said this is the worst West Indies team in history‚” he said.
“But those players stuck together and believed in themselves and in what Stuart Law as a coach was instilling in them‚ and then they went on to cause what some people are now calling one of the greatest upsets in sport [by winning the second test after losing the first heavily].”
Transformation? Not my problem‚ Gibson said.
“Transformation was mentioned but it didn’t have to be in my opinion because it is a government policy‚” he said.
“Once it’s a government policy‚ it doesn’t matter … not that it doesn’t matter but there’s nothing I can do about it.
“I have to work with it. I can’t go in and say I want to change that.
« I know that it is there and I understand why it is there.
“Whether I like it or not is irrelevant because it’s there and we have to work with it.”