If ever there were any doubts that former West Indian paceman Ottis Gibson would be unleashing South Africa’s fast bowlers in his new role as Proteas coach, they were put to rest as the former England bowling coach backed the attack that will take on India in the first Test at Newlands on Friday as being world-class.
“We are gearing ourselves up for a good battle over the Test series, but this attack with Dale Steyn, Morne Morkel, Kagiso Rabada, Vernon Philander, Chris Morris and Keshav Maharaj is a world-class spinner – perhaps the best the country has had in a long time – so it is a world-class bowling attack and we’ve got to come up with the best combination to win this match and then think about the next one. But certainly this attack, if all those guys are able to take the field then this will be up there with the best ones,” Gibson said.
“The best attacks in the world – the Aussies have pace, England in England have swing and seam, India have spin and some good fast bowlers as well – but this attack has all of those things. We’ve got pace, swing, good control, a top spinner. We just have to be able to adapt quickly. You look at all the strike-rates of the South African bowlers and they are all very good. Again, putting the right combination on the field is the key.
“The first thing the bowlers will try to do is dominate the top of off-stump and get the ball swinging and seaming. When you have world-class bowlers like that in the right set of conditions, they will thrive. We’re not taking anything for granted with regards to their team,” Gibson added.
The coach confirmed that, despite his stellar reputation and all-clear report medically, Dale Steyn is not seen as a definite for the Newlands Test.
“He has had a year layoff. I don’t think if we were to pick a three-man seam attack, plus a spinner, that you would want to put him in that three-man attack in case something happens and that leaves the team vulnerable if he can’t finish the game. That’s not to say that he won’t finish the game, but you don’t want to take that risk in the first game. He will come into the discussion, but it depends on the formation of the team,” Gibson said.