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South Africa to persist with four-pronged pace attack, says coach Ottis Gibson

South Africa have called up Lungi Ngidi, Duanne Olivier for the remaining Tests while Chris Morris is in the squad as back-up as the hosts look to seal the series in the second Test at Centurion.

cricket Updated: Jan 09, 2018 23:17 IST
Somshuvra Laha
Somshuvra Laha
Cape Town
South Africa vs India,Ottis Gibson,South Africa national cricket team
South Africa pacers Vernon Philander, Morne Morkel and Kagiso Rabada wrecked the Indian batting at Newlands despite the absence of Dale Steyn in the second innings. (AP)

South Africa may have lost Dale Steyn for this series but coach Ottis Gibson doesn’t want the intensity to let up by playing less than four fast bowlers. Speaking to the media after the 72-run victory at Newlands, Gibson said they want to be tough with both bat and ball in this series but the focus was on fielding four quicks against India as well as Australia who arrive in March.

“I’m a very fast-bowling minded coach, and I guess you will always have to find a balance with ‘Can we get four fast bowlers in the team first of all. Are the conditions conducive for four fast bowler?’,” said Gibson.

“If not then we’ll try and look at other options. But ultimately, especially in this series and for the rest of the summer, we’ll be looking to see how best we can fit four fast bowlers into whatever side we play,” he said.

“I think we’re all very competitive by nature and we’re very clear what our goals are within the team. Everybody’s role has been clarified and everybody’s accepted it. If you want to beat the best team in the world, which India are because they’re ranked No. 1, then maybe we have to do something slightly different to what we’ve done in the past. So we have to get stuck in and be tough with the bat and with the ball. Use our physicality in terms of our pace – in this game we had three guys bowling over 140 – have a presence about us.”

Gibson took over as South Africa coach in only August last year when the team had a few injury concerns but he is trying to get special attention only for the fast bowlers. “Last week we had a discussion with a medical panel about trying to set up a group of people who look after fast bowlers. Personally I think fast bowlers are the bedrock of a really good cricket system. If we want to be the No.1 in the world, and especially in all conditions, fast bowlers become very important to that process. We need to find ways of looking after, monitoring, training our fast bowlers better.”

With the Newlands Test showing that opportunities to score could be few and far between, he wants the batsmen to be more proactive. “On a wicket like this, as a batsman, if you think there is always a ball with your name on it, then the simple approach is to make sure you get your runs before that ball gets you,” said Gibson, who was disappointed with their second innings batting but was more than happy with how the pacers, especially Man of the match Vernon Philander, bowled their heart out to win the Test.

“We were disappointed obviously to lose eight wickets in a session. But then you think about it and the way you look at it is, ‘Well, there must be something in the wicket for us to lose eight wickets in a session, so therefore let’s go out and use that’. I thought the guys were outstanding with one bowler short,” he said.

“The good thing about our group as well is that so many senior – or experienced players, I don’t really like the word ‘senior’ player – put their hands up. Dale was down but then Vernon takes the lead. Vernon became the person that led us to victory in the end. Rabada continues to get better. You saw him all through the match bowling in the high 140s. Morne as well.”

First Published: Jan 09, 2018 20:43 IST