Every now and then a sponsor really goes out of its way to do something a bit different. I have said for a long time that sponsors, by and large, can be taken for granted and under-appreciated in the world of sport but I guess they wouldn’t keep coming back if it wasn’t worth their while.
Nissan’s involvement in cricket is headed by their brand ambassadors Shaun Pollock and Kagiso Rabada and it was around these two very fine cricketers and gentlemen that the car manufacturer planned their latest ‘day out’ for the media. And what a day it was – provided you enjoy speed.
With apologies to Nissan and all petrol heads, I am the least car person I know. I once sat in a hire car at Bloemfontein airport for almost an hour trying to start the engine after they introduced that clutch thingy. But it was impossible not to be impressed in the passenger seat of a Nissan GTI (I think) as we touched speeds of 210 kph on a lap around Kyalami.
KG has had his license for less than a year and now drives a Juke. I never did find out what Polly drives but I did ask him whether he was surprised by the appointment of Ottis Gibson.
“Not really. On the tour of England we heard the rumours that he had a chance and by the last test it was basically talk in the commentary box that it looks like the captain (Faf) was talking to the new coach on the outfield before the start of play.”
Q – Good choice?
A – We’ve got to give him an opportunity to see what he can do. Russell did a good job and will go to the ‘A’ side. Otis worked as a bowling coach twice for England and he has been the head coach for the West Indies. I’m sure he would have reassessed after being the head coach for the West Indies and seen where he was good and where he was bad and what he did right and didn’t do right and I think that is what he will look at when he gets to South Africa.
Q – Do you think, as a foreigner, he will be able to challenge in areas and ask questions that a South African couldn’t – or wouldn’t want to?
A – I think so. He will definitely have to have an understanding about the dynamics in South Africa, you can’t get away from that at all and he will need to balance that as best he can. Any coach who goes anywhere in the world has to do something along those lines. And sometimes, if you have been in the opposition dressing room as bowling coach you have heard the discussions by the team members about the strengths and the weaknesses, where they think a team is strong, where they think they can improve. I would hope he would be there to ask questions because there might be some tough decisions for him going forward about people who come back, who don’t come back. All his focus with the one day team will be towards the World Cup and also how you do you replace some of the experience that will be lost at some stage?
Q – Do you think there is a ‘natural’ lifespan for any coach – and coaching team?
A – Yes, probably. if you have the same individuals who play for eight or 10 years then there is definitely. But if you go through different eras, which he might do at some stage – with the likes of de Villiers, Amla, Steyn and several others possibly approaching the end – it is almost like you are a new coach because you are working with a new bunch of players. If I had to have foresight in to the South African job there is probably a longer period for him to work with.
Q – He was told quite clearly in his job interview that CSA’s priority was a coach to win the World Cup.
A – Every coach that has been part of the South Africa set up would have been told the same thing I think over the years!!
If you look at it over the next two years going forward that would probably be the main focus, There are a couple of massive Test tours coming here, India and Australia. After that full energy in to the World Cup and being in English conditions he has got to have a lot of knowledge gathered form the England side, so that is all good. They bowl a lot of cross seams when they were over there now, how the difference surfaces play so from that side he will have a lot of good information and hopefully he can implement it.”
Q – KG, were you surprised when Ottis was appointed?
A – I wasn’t surprised, I knew that it was written in the script. Ever since we left England there was just a whole lot of talk and we were told to expect that.
Q – How important is a coach to you? Are you largely self-maintained?
A – Yes I taught myself with a bit of guidance here and there. I am still in that process.. let’s see what Ottis can offer in that department. He seems to be doing well in England.
Q – He’s a bowling coach now but when he becomes head coach he may prefer to keep a specialist fast bowling coach – maybe keep Charl Langeveldt…
A – I have worked a lot with Charl and I really enjoy working with him. I think he is a great bowling coach.
Q – There’s going to be a LOT of World Cup talk over the next 20 months…
A – Yeah, what a time to come in to the team now when there are two big Tests tours and yes, SA is still looking to win a World Cup so we will be preparing and hopefully 2019 is our year.
Q – How’s your fitness at the moment? This will be our busiest international home summer ever – you can’t play all the games, can you?
A – Right now I feel alright, I feel good. If I feel like I am tired of have a bit of a niggle I will tell the guys how I feel, but right now I feel alright. I’ve enjoyed a nice few weeks off…
Questions? Comments? Suggestions? Feel free to get in touch.