Now I personally did not want to speak on the appointment of Gibson as soon as it was announced. I am someone who does always want to see how a person adapts to a position, while they have all the necessary credentials after giving them that little bit of time. Pre-judgements are just not something I do. Hence the delay in my opinion on Gibson’s new position in the Proteas camp. How was he going to stamp his presence in this team? I wanted to wait and see until after the Bangladesh tour, but I couldn’t wait.
His appointment was one that did cause some debate as many did not know how a bowling coach would be anything but great after Russell Domingo was, essentially, given the boot by Cricket South Africa. His release then brought around the debate as to who would take his place. A local coach like Geoffrey Toyana of the bizhub Highveld Lions? Or an international coach like… an Australian? Naturally there were mixed reviews when Gibson landed the job ahead of Toyana who many had thought was a likely possibility.
So here we are.
I am so glad I waited to speak on his inclusion, and that’s because I noticed that there’s a change in attitude. I feel that the team that was booted out of the Champions Trophy that played the annoyingly safe brand of cricket has grown a slight bit of confidence and ruthlessness in their game. Albeit the Proteas are pummelling the daylights out of the out-of-our-comfort-zone Bangladesh side, there have been some performances by the team, and calls by the coach that bring back that essence of hope and depth in the squad.
This tour was a great one for Gibson to explore with the upcoming talent that is in the domestic setup in the country. For him to go to a few Sunfoil Series matches really does show that he aims to take the Proteas to greater heights. He has deemed all the tours they play as preparation for the World Cup in 2019. Since his arrival, South Africa has unearthed a long-term prospect in Aiden Markram opening with Dean Elgar in the test side, and a definite choice batsman in ODIs. He still has age on his side as he is still 23. Him being the captain that steered his Under-19 teammates, like Andile Phehlukwayo, Kagiso Rabada and Jason Smith, to World Cup victory makes him a future prospect for a captain once the ‘Over-30 Generation’ in the squad announce their retirement. If you think he is still too young to be considered a captain, remember that he currently captains the Multiply Titans in the domestic competitions, and one former great captain of Graeme Smith was appointed as captain at the age of 22.
Wiaan Mulder is also someone who has impressed Coach Gibson as well, seeing as he made his debut at the expense of Wayne Parnell getting injured. Many think Mulder is too young as well, and I am one of them. However, I can see why Gibson brought him into the squad. He’s to soak up all the experience around him and use it to grow and get better. Honestly, his debut could have gone a lot better than it did, but in him getting a wicket is at least the first step to many more. I believe him, Dwaine Pretorius, and Phehlukwayo are the ones to watch in terms of them being game-changing all-rounders for the Proteas going further.
If I am on the same wavelength as Gibson, he should want to bring Lungi Ngidi back into the Proteas eleven once India arrives in the country. He had been off team sheets due to a back injury he sustained with the South Africa ‘A’ squad back in June. Upon his return to domestic cricket, he managed to take 9 wickets bowling for the Titans in the Sunfoil Series. He had made a huge shout for being called up for the Proteas during his stint against Sri Lanka earlier in the 2016 home season until an abdominal injury crept in. Now that he is back, Cricket South Africa has got to manage him well if we are to even get a glimpse of him and Rabada possibly bowling together against India. A bowling line-up consisting of Rabada, Ngidi, Philander, and a Dale Steyn that is 160% fit? Let your imagination run wild with that thought.
It may be early to give praise to Gibson, but I just think of how long it would have been until all the young players in the Proteas would have gotten their call-up if still under Domingo. We are set for exploring depth and getting the young guys ready for the day they make the Proteas eleven more frequently.