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Saturday, January 27, 2018

Dean Elgar hit ~ Wanderers Test and the Coach of South Africa

What happens when a bowler gives a brilliant performance ?  ~ read what happened to Ottis Gibson who was on screen yesterday – he is the head coach  of  Standard Bank Proteas national team across all three formats.  His contract runs  from mid-September 2017  until the conclusion of the ICC World Cup in mid-2019.

Amidst much drama, comes the news that the  Wanderers Test will continue as scheduled on day four. There was uncertainty over the future of the match when umpires took the players off 19 minutes before scheduled stumps on day three because of concerns over their safety on a spicy pitch. The pitch has had exaggerated bounce and seam right from the start of the match, but on day three various batsmen copped blows to their bodies against balls kicking up off a good length. The ball that finally prompted the umpires to halt play was one from Jasprit Bumrah that hit Dean Elgar in the grille of the helmet. The two captains then met the match referee. India made it clear they wanted to continue playing, and South Africa didn't express a preference either way but said they would continue playing if the match referee deemed the pitch safe to play on.

The match officials first had a conversation regarding the pitch with the teams during the tea break on day three, when it was expressed to the two managers that the new ball could behave dangerously. The decision to take players off was the umpires'. The match referee  Andy Pycroft was then briefed, and he consulted both the captains.  The protocol is to continue only if both the captains agree to play on. If the decision is not to play, then it is seen if the pitch can be repaired without - in the view of the match referee - disadvantaging any side. There will be no repairs on this pitch except for the customary light roller at the start of the day's play. A light roller was used on the pitch on day three too.  The ICC later sent out a statement via Twitter, confirming an on-time start on day four:

South Africa insisted that the uneven and excessive bounce and seam movement at the Wanderers in the third Test was not part of their request for helpful pitches. Though South Africa admitted to asking for surfaces that would assist their attack, they maintained that all they wanted was pace and bounce, and not the lateral movement or exaggerated bounce that this surface provided. "Everybody is making a big issue of grass but we've never asked for grass, we asked for pace and bounce. If you're a groundsman and we ask you to make a wicket with pace and bounce, and you feel that the best way to do that is leave grass on the wicket, that's it. Then we get on and play with it," Ottis Gibson, South Africa's coach said. "The Test in Cape Town only went three days, but we thought it was a good wicket. We asked for a similar wicket in Centurion, and it was more like Mumbai than anywhere else, and it was a great Test match as well. With this one, the wicket has unfortunately got worse as the match has gone on."

Please do re-read the para above and compare with the dust that gets raised when visiting teams play on a rank square turner !! ~ pitch doctoring !!

Asked whether the pitch may have been a result of extra pressure placed on the groundsman by the knowledge that South Africa would not settle for anything less than bowler-friendly conditions, Gibson did not think that was the case. "I can't speak for groundsman. We asked for a certain type of pitch and then the groundsmen have a month to try and get it right," he said. But there is some expectation within the home camp that the scrutiny on the surface will not let up, even after play resumes on day four. "There is no doubt that questions are going to be asked about the preparations of the pitch, Mohammed Moosajee, South Africa's team manager said.  South Africa stopped short of criticising the Wanderers surface and reiterated their willingness to play on. But between the two sides, they placed more emphasis on safety after Dean Elgar was struck on the grille of the helmet in the ninth over of South Africa's chase. The incident caused play to called off 19 minutes before the scheduled close.

India were clearly not happy with being taken off the field when they were by the match officials, 19 minutes from the scheduled close of day three. They felt the ball that led to the players going off was not unusual but was consistent with how the pitch had played. They felt disadvantaged after they had batted on the "same" pitch, and felt that it didn't seem dangerous to them. "The wicket was definitely challenging, but if you see our openers batted so well," Ajinkya Rahane said. "The wicket was similar for both teams. Vijay got 25 runs, and he faced 130-140 [127] balls. It was completely the same for everyone. Our approach was that we want to play and win this Test match. When Bhuvi and I were batting, we were not thinking about the wicket. We were just focussing on playing that particular delivery. Yes, the odd ball we got hit on the hand or the glove, but that's the nature of the wicket, we cannot control that."

Now getting back to that performer Ottis Gibson, the West Indian is well versed with English conditions. He signed up for Glamorgan in 2006 but next season, he played for Durham and took 10 wickets in an innings against Hampshire in July 2007 ~ and immediately after that was appointed bowling coach of England !   Ottis Delroy Gibson hails from Barbados. Gibson made two Test appearances for the West Indies. In his first outing against England in 1995, he picked up the wickets of Alec Stewart and Darren Gough in the first innings, finishing with figures of 2-81, but was less successful in the second with 0-51. With the bat he made 29 and 14, as the West Indies slumped to a 72 run defeat. His next was to come years later in 1999 against South Africa.  He was considered a ODI specialist – yet played only 15 making a best score of 52 and 5-42 against Sri Lanka. He took another 5 wicket haul against the same opposition and two four-fors, finishing with an impressive bowling average of 18.26.

His moment of glory came when he clean swept Hampshire in July 2007.   38 at that time, the Barbadian cut down his pace and relied more on swing than seam on a pitch which had sweated under covers to finish with figures of 17.3-1-47-10 as Hampshire were dismissed for 115. Gibson had five for 31 from 12 overs at lunch and eight for 47 from 17 overs when rain brought a 90-minute break. He admitted: "It couldn't have worked out better for me, because both times I started to feel tired I got a break.

In Sept. 2007,  Gibson was appointed as England's bowling coach for the one-day series in Sri Lanka because Allan Donald had commentary duties in South Africa.  In Jany 2010 it was announced that Gibson would be leaving his England post  and became  coach of West Indies. Now he is the coach of South Africa in all formats !

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
27th Jan 2018.

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