Ottis Gibson is not necessarily the first name you would associate with the Proteas coaching position.
It’s little wonder then that various reports about him being approached by Cricket South Africa (CSA) to replace Russell Domingo elicited much surprise.
But before the naysayers chirp that the local governing body is clutching at straws, it’s worthwhile to explore what the 48-year-old former West Indian fast bowler brings to the table.
Gibson is a man very familiar to South African cricket.
As a 23-year-old, he turned out for Border and proved an instant success with bat and ball.
There was also a memorable 13-wicket haul against Natal in a domestic four-day match in 1994.
And, in what still represents a nightmare for many Gauteng fans, Gibson made a match-winning 76 off 52 balls as an pinch-hitter in a domestic one-day cup semifinal in Kimberley for Griqualand West.
He later turned out for Gauteng too.
The important thing about Gibson’s South African experience is that while he wasn’t directly involved, he experienced the initial political shift in local sport.
The turn of the century was indeed a time when the greater drive towards transformation started.
It was admittedly slow but Gibson certainly wasn’t unaware of it.
That’s arguably the most compelling reason why he’s suitable to coach South Africa as a foreigner.
He might not be knowledgeable enough yet to understand the true intricacies of CSA’s aggressive new transformation policies but he knows more than others.
Also, the transformation debate is a mild issue when it comes West Indian cricket politics.
The Caribbean game has been in a state of chaos for close to a decade as the governing body regularly bumps heads with leading players.
Gibson knows what it’s like to juggle resources and, frankly, the Proteas have embraced transformation to such an extent that one probably can’t compare it with the Windies’ dramas.
Scarily, these considerations are more important than experience.
But Gibson ticks that box.
He has international coaching experience for close on a decade.
Gibson started out as England’s bowling coach in 2007, a position he held until 2010.
Then he was head coach of the Windies until 2014 – winning 2012’s World T20 title – before returning to his original post in 2015.
It’s hardly a pedigree to be sniffed at given how difficult it is for South Africa to attract foreign coaches.
With Geoff Toyana as his assistant, the idea hardly sounds preposterous.
After all, are there any local coaches that applied that match his achievements?