Opinion: Gibson appointment as Proteas coach would be wrong

Jonhenry Wilson examines the race for the soon-to-be vacant South African coaching position.

Let me state, unequivocally, that Ottis Gibson is not the right man to succeed Russell Domingo as head coach of the Proteas. While there is no doubt that Domingo has to go, the appointment of the former West Indies fast bowler would be a step in completely the wrong direction.

The fact that Faf du Plessis asked Joe Root and company about the current England bowling coach's work ethic and man-management skills - and received positive feedback - has very little meaning. Root and team-mates would never, privately or publicly, speak ill of Gibson, to the opposition, during an important Test series. Their assessment of Gibson, no matter how transparent or obscure, lacks sincere context.

Du Plessis would have been better off seeking the insight of the men who played under Gibson during his tenure as West Indies head coach, from January 2010 to August 2014. Hopefully, the Proteas captain and his employees, amid due diligence, will still ask big questions about Gibson to Darren Sammy and the like.

While the self-serving opinions of Chris Gayle, Kieron Pollard, Dwayne Bravo and the West Indies' other Twenty20 mercenaries wouldn't count for much, an objective response from the levelheaded Sammy would go a long way in offering the Proteas the biggest, fullest picture of Gibson's positives and negatives.

Former Windies pace ace-turned-television commentator Michael Holding said it best during the recent fourth Test at Old Trafford - Gibson is not head coach calibre. He is a solid enough bowling or assistant coach, certainly, but not head coach - and for relatively rightful reasons. The Proteas require a leader, not a support act.

As much as Domingo tried, he never truly emerged from the shadow of Gary Kirsten. Gibson was a sideshow to Peter Moores, the West Indies Cricket Board's meddling and - most recently - Trevor Bayliss. His humble lot is secure with the England and Wales Cricket Board and, while it's admirable that his ambition wants more, it shouldn't be obliged by South Africa.

It's a massive pity that former Titans coach Rob Walter is no longer in the country - and evidently not in contention to succeed Domingo. Walter, instead, is plying a lucrative trade with Otago in New Zealand. In terms of homegrown talent, Lions coach Geoffrey Toyana seems the most obvious choice - coaching pedigree- and political standing-wise.

However, if the Proteas really wanted to shuffle the status quo, Walter's replacement at the Titans, Mark Boucher, would be a shoo-in. Named Coach of the Year at the 2017 Cricket South Africa awards, the veteran wicketkeeper-batsman has the coaching credentials, playing experience and personal tenacity to bring an entirely relevant and required approach to the role.

Boucher's relationship with Jacques Kallis over two decades, too, could see the stalwart all-rounder consult, casually or formally, like the Proteas have done with Michael Hussey, Neil McKenzie and others. Having fashioned a role as a mentor with the Sydney Thunder in the Big Bash League and the Kolkata Knight Riders in the Indian Premier League, Kallis has a great rapport with world cricket.

And, for a bit of a wildcard suggestion, how about Graeme Smith and Makhaya Ntini, who is currently coaching with Zimbabwe, entering the Proteas set-up? That would make a far more attractive quartet than Gibson, McKenzie, Charl Langeveldt and Claude Henderson.

Published on 10 August 2017.

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