Former West Indies coach Ottis Gibson is aware that his new job as South Africa coach inherently comes with a lot of pressure, not least of all from being the first black coach of the once apartheid-divided nation.
Gibson, the former West Indies all-rounder, is all too aware of the racial lines that in the not too distant past once divided the nation; the remnants still evident in the racial quotas introduced for the team last year. Things, however, seem to be coming full circle with Gibson introduced as head coach of the unit today.
“The first black coach to coach South Africa that sounds like a lot of pressure,” Gibson told members of the media at a press conference.
In addition to that, the former England bowling coach will be the first overseas coach since Bob Woolmer, who held the post from 1994-1999, to take charge of the Proteas.
“The first foreign coach since Bob Woolmer also sounds like a lot of pressure. I was playing cricket in the 1990s when Bob Woolmer was doing a lot of great things, he was an innovator and he had a very good team. I’m also inheriting from Russell Domingo a very good team,” he added.
The Barbadian has immediately turned his attention to putting together a team that can win the World Cup, which will be held in England in the next two years.
“There are a lot of players that have done a lot of unbelievable things in cricket a lot of it individually and a lot of it also as a team and for the country. With the World Cup in mind there is an opportunity for us to do something really special and that is the focus over the next two years.”
Asked about his coaching philosophy, Gibson said it was something that keeps evolving.
When I got involved in coaching I wanted to make a difference to people, I wanted to improve people, not just cricket, and I wanted to take people to a place they have never been before. If I use Stuart Broad as an example, I played with him at Leicester and I was then able, a couple of years later, to go and coach him. I have lots of good conversations with him about where he wants to be. It’s the same with the team.
“When I got involved with West Indies, I was thinking what can I do with West Indies? Where are we now? Where do we want to be in the future? We all know the recent history of West Indies cricket and where it is at the moment but I was able to take that group of people from very talented players but not necessarily a team to getting that group of players who were together at the 2012 World T20 and then to win that.
“Everybody thought, ‘Yeah, they are going to do alright and entertain,’ but we also stayed together as a good unit and then went on and won. I’m sure my philosophy might evolve again but that’s it coming into this environment; to look at where the team is and where they want to go,” he said.
On the quotas and transformation process, Gibson stated: “That process has been happening before I got here. There’s no need for me to go into that because it’s happening already as far as selection is concerned. We will continue on the path that we are. It seems that the chairman of selectors has got a handle on that, so there’s no need for me to go into that.”