Proteas coach Ottis Gibson sets sights on No.1 test ranking
For a man who arrived in South Africa just over six months ago to occupy one of the hottest seats in the country amid mixed reactions‚ Ottis Gibson’s start to his job as Proteas coach has gotten off to an impressive start.
At the end of his 10th test match against Australia at the Wanderers on Tuesday‚ Gibson reflected on the ‘enjoyable experience’‚ where South Africa have won eight tests and lost twice‚ with pride.
But he was quick to point out that his team remain a work in progress.
“I have enjoyed my first six months with the team and it has been quite an experience.
"We have won eight out of 10 test matches‚ which includes two big wins over India and Australia‚” Gibson said‚ addressing the media after the last match the series against Australia.
Since the West Indian took over from Russell Domingo in August last year‚ Gibson has overseen a 2-0 series win over Bangladesh‚ victory over Zimbabwe in the once-off first day/night test in South Africa‚ 2-1 win over India and the recent 3-1 win against the Aussies.
India currently lead the ICC test rankings but South Africa are breathing down their necks in second place.
Gibson said the Proteas have set their sights on returning to the top of the pile in the coming months where they are scheduled to play against 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 said he was well received by the players when he first arrived.
“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 the 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 comprehensively beat Bangladesh 3-0 in ODIs and 2-0 in T20s but they went on to lose heavily 5-1 to India in the ODIs and 2-1 in T20s.
Gibson‚ though‚ said he was not worried with those defeats as he wanted to have a look at fringe players.
“The results of the ODI series weren’t great. I did not mind that much but the fans wanted us to win.
“I am certainly happy with this group of players that we have and the message to all franchise players is that if you perform well you have a chance of playing for your country.
“In ODI cricket‚ we picked Robby Frylinck‚ Lungi Ngidi and Junior Dala. A lot of guys who performed at the franchise level got opportunities and the message to the guys who want to play for their country is that they will certainly be looked at.”