England bowling coach Ottis Gibson has been linked with taking charge of South Africa © Getty Images
The ECB is expected to demand a compensation payment from Cricket South Africa before it will consider allowing Ottis Gibson to leave.
While Gibson has emerged as a frontrunner for the position of South Africa coach – a position that is currently filled by Russell Domingo – he is contracted to the ECB as England’s bowling coach until the end of the 2018 season. ESPNcricinfo understands that, if CSA is serious about recruiting him, it will have to reach an agreement with the ECB before his release is agreed.
The ECB is yet to receive an official approach from CSA and negotiations have not begun. It is understood that both sides considered it appropriate to progress only after the end of the series.
“To be honest I only found out from the media,” Trevor Bayliss, England’s head coach, said after his team secured the series at Old Trafford. “That was the first we heard of it. There’s nothing been finalised yet. I’m at a loss at the moment whether it’s a go ahead. We haven’t heard for sure. By all accounts it sounds like it.
“I think with all these things you look at the positives: someone from the England set-up is being looked at for a higher job somewhere. All these things you’ve got to look at as positives not negatives.”
It is not impossible that the ECB will make a counter offer to retain Gibson’s services. But although it is not unusual for coaches to receive approaches from rival employers – the ECB recruited Paul Farbrace from Sri Lanka – there is a touch of discontent from some at the ECB that they had not been informed by Gibson that he was considering the South Africa position.
If he does take the South Africa job, it will leave England looking for a new bowling coach ahead of the Ashes tour. While James Anderson is understood to have expressed a willingness to take on some aspects of the position and has already developed the role of senior pro among the bowlers, it is likely the ECB will appoint a full-time specialist, at least as an interim measure, for the Ashes. Richard Johnson, the former England seamer who now works as bowling coach at Middlesex, is likely to be a leading contender, while Graeme Welch, currently with Leicestershire, is another option.
Jason Gillespie seems a less likely candidate. While his knowledge of Australian players and conditions might be considered a substantial advantage, the desire appears to be for a more technical coach. It might also be that Gillespie, who was interviewed for the head coach role after the sacking of Peter Moores in 2015, is considered something of a threat by the current coaching team.
George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo
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