The decision by Ottis Gibson to retain the same coaching and support staff as his predecessor, Russel Domingo, makes absolute sense – and no sense at all.
The purpose of changing the head coach was to ‘refresh’ the coaching approach and atmosphere, to inject new ideas and energy into a structure which had, by almost common consent, taken the team as far as it could. So that would clearly mean changing more faces than just the one at the head.
And yet there are clearly some who are succeeding and some who need a change of scenery. How Gibson possibly know who was who before even arriving in the country? His decision to leave everyone in place is sensible and allows both him and the ‘backroom’ staff the chance to assess each other. But it would be bizarre if Gibson felt he could take over and make his mark in the long term with the exactly the same team as Domingo assembled.
Adrian Birrell was Domingo’s first appointment and the two men go back decades. The assistant coach has a close personal relationship with many of the players but it seems certain that Gibson will want his own right-hand man. Birrell is a smart and humble man, he will no doubt do all he can to ease the transition before stepping aside. There will be no shortage of opportunities for him and, although he will no doubt be sorry to say goodbye, a bright future beckons.
Charl Langeveldt might feel he is another obvious candidate to make way given that Gibson is a specialist fast bowling coach but that may be far from the case. Gibson wants to establish himself as a head coach and, therefore, may feel the retention of a man in that role is essential. Should Gibson and Langeveldt ‘click’ during the Bangladesh series, ‘Langers’ may well be presented with a two-year contract extension.
Everyone will be reliant on the chemistry they experience during the Bangladesh tour. Spin coach Claude Henderson, batting coach Neil McKenzie, fitness and fielding coach Greg King…even long term manager Dr Mohammed Moosajee will all have to see how their relationship with Gibson shapes up before deciding on their futures (or having them decided upon.)
If Gibson had announced his support team before even arriving in South Africa he would have been roundly condemned, and rightly so. He may already have some of the best tools available to him. But if he does not make some changes to suit his particular goals and goals, that too would surely be a mistake.
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