Chris Morris, Faf du Plessis and Russell Domingo gets a test of Manchester conditions © AFP
South Africa’s Test captain Faf du Plessis has asked their next head coach not to make wholesale changes to the backroom staff.
Last week, reports emerged that Russell Domingo was on his way out and that CSA were looking at replacing him with Ottis Gibson, the England bowling coach. It seems Du Plessis has heard the same things. “As far as we know, it’s been told to us that the decision has been made by the coaching panel,” he said after landing in Cape Town.
“They’ve chosen Ottis Gibson as their recommendation and now that goes to the board and the board decides whether they want to use that recommendation or not.”
There have been suggestions of changes to the support staff as well but Du Plessis threw his support behind the incumbents Neil McKenzie (batting coach), Charl Langeveldt (bowling coach) and Claude Henderson (spin coach).
“In an ideal situation, you’d like to make as little change as possible so it’s not wholesale changes,” he said. “A whole new coaching staff would come in and it would take a while to get to know everyone.
“If there was a suggestion I could make is for whoever, if it was Ottis, to come in and see for himself what the team requires. If he decides that there needs to be changes, then he decides that over a period of time. Our technical coaches, I think, have been doing a very good job.”
At the start of their 2016-17 season, South Africa went away to beat Australia, came home to thrash Sri Lanka and then toppled New Zealand. They came to England with strong hopes of regaining the Basil D’Oliveira Trophy but were beaten 3-1, putting an end to a dismal time in the UK, where they lost ODI and T20I series’ to the hosts, and suffered a group stage exit in the Champions Trophy.
Domingo’s contract as head coach was due to end at the completion of the tour. And though he had reapplied for the post in July, he seemed resigned to the idea that his tenure was done by the time South Africa were beaten inside four days in Manchester.
As such, Du Plessis has spent some of his time in the sidelines gathering information about Gibson. “For me it was important, because I don’t know Ottis, to try and find something out about him,” he said. “I spoke to a few of the West Indian players because he was their coach and then I spoke to the English guys about their thoughts on him.
“There were one or two differences in opinion … the comments were positive. I spoke to Ben Stokes, who said he was a very good bowling coach. I spoke to Eoin Morgan from a captaincy perspective, who said he was a good guy.”
Du Plessis still felt losing a leader that the players had grown familiar with was a blow. “The fact that the team knows Russell well, there are good relationships and the players trust him. That’s a good asset that the coach has. To lose that will not be nice. But the other side is that someone will come in with some fresh ideas. Maybe it is a good time for that, maybe not.”
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