Standard Bank Proteas head coach, Ottis Gibson, has praised his squad’s performances during the limited-overs tour of Australia. The Proteas won the one-day international (ODI) series 2-1, and the rain-affected T20 International by 21-runs to close off a successful year of ODI cricket for South Africa.
The Proteas have won three of the four series’ played in 2018; they beat Sri Lanka and Australia away, Zimbabwe at home and only lost to India at home earlier this year.
The message for this year has been one of exploration and opportunity, with the 16 matches played used as the platform to try out combinations and players. Gibson admits his squad is not the finished product, but is satisfied with some of the questions which have been answered throughout the year.
“It has been an interesting year,” Gibson said following the T20 International against Australia in Brisbane. “We have been on this mission of discovery since I started, we had 16 months to plan for the World Cup. We have played a lot of different people trying to find different combinations and it feels like we are finding some good solutions to some of the questions that we have had. All in all it has been an interesting first couple of months in charge.”
The bowling unit – which has operated like a well-oiled machine- has been the highlight, but it is with certain roles in the batting line-up and with the crucial batting all-rounder where questions remain unanswered. Gibson says the return of Hashim Amla and JP Duminy from injury will bolster the batting, an area that continues to be fine-tuned.
“It is always good to come to Australia and win,” Gibson said in praise. “Australia by nature are very competitive. To come here without some of our key men and win is very rewarding. Around this mission of discovery; when you find some of the stuff you are looking for, you need to start implementing it. That is what we have done with the bowling attack, the attack has been outstanding. They did well in Sri Lanka but to go a step further here was excellent. There are still one or two questions around the batting that need to be answered but for the most part the bowling and the fielding this series went up a notch.
“The bowling led us brilliantly with Dale (Steyn) back to his best bowling quickly, aggressively and taking wickets. Lungi (Ngidi) and KG (Rabada) also showed some real maturity, and Imran Tahir has always been our number one, we have left him out in a couple of series to give Shamsi some experience, but he proved again on wickets that didn’t necessarily suit him that he can have an impact on the game. When you start to find your feet and play well you hope there are games around the corner, but we have to wait until January for white-ball cricket, but we have learnt quite a lot on this trip.
“A fit and in-form Hashim will be a huge plus for us,” he added. “The way JP played in Sri Lanka was great, he has had his surgery and we are hoping he will be fit again soon. Those two coming back in will make us even stronger. There are still a few questions in terms of batting but we know that if we have all of our batsmen fit those questions will be answered.”
The Proteas’ next ODI assignment is a five-match series against Pakistan in January next year, with the focus shifting to the Mzansi Super League (MSL) and the first Test match against Pakistan at SuperSport Park on December 26th.
“I will be watching from home in the UK,” he said of the MSL. “I will be coming in for the match on the 12th of December at Centurion and will also watch the play-off match and the final. I am looking forward to it, there was a lot of disappointment when it didn’t happen last year so it is nice to see it get off the ground. Fingers crossed for it being a huge success.”