Johannesburg – Sacked Proteas coach Ottis Gibson had received backing from Cricket South Africa (CSA), in principle, to have his contract extended until April 2021.
It was confirmed on Sunday that Gibson’s contract, which runs until the end of September 2019, would not be renewed by CSA following a disastrous Cricket World Cup campaign that saw the national side finish seventh at the global showpiece without ever threatening to make the semi-finals.
Sport24 can confirm, however, that at a February 1, 2019 CSA board meeting in Cape Town it was agreed that Gibson’s position be extended to April 2021 – which would have taken him beyond the completion of the T20 World Cup in Australia towards the end of next year.
The approval went as far as summoning an existing CSA independent director to redraft the new contract, which had a significant focus on Gibson reaching transformation targets and facilitating a succession plan aimed at identifying and developing South African coaches who could potentially take over from him.
Gibson is understood to have had at least one more meeting with CSA CEO Thabang Moroe and current acting director of cricket Corrie van Zyl before the side left for the World Cup, but the specifics of the new contract were said to be holding up the process.
The 50-year-old Barbadian was still in the dark at the World Cup, but expressed his desire at the tournament to stay on while he also received the backing of national skipper Faf du Plessis, specifically with the T20 World Cup in October 2020 in mind.
In negotiating a new deal, Gibson is believed to have insisted that he would be prepared to stay on if it meant that his support staff of assistant coaches stayed on with him.
Instead, CSA have abandoned the role of head coach completely and are now in search of a team manager who will oversee Gibson’s duties as well as those of outgoing team manager Dr Mohammed Moosajee.
Van Zyl, together with Moroe, will now appoint an interim management team for the upcoming Indian tour where the Proteas will play three T20Is and three Tests during September and October.
It can also be confirmed that nothing in Gibson’s original contract with CSA made mention of him winning the World Cup or making the final as a performance requirement, but he was expected to achieve “success” at an ICC World Cup event.
Gibson went into the World Cup uncertain over his future despite having been told as recently as February that he would have a new contract negotiated.
At that same February 1 meeting, it was also proposed by the CSA board that Moroe have the final say in signing off on all team selections in order to meet transformation targets.
This resulted in correspondence between Moroe and Gibson, who was angered that such a decision would be taken without consulting him or the convenor of selectors, Linda Zondi, first.
The board was concerned that the Proteas, for the second year in a row, were missing their transformation targets.
Gibson’s concerns over meeting transformation targets were that he needed to find time to rest the likes of Kagiso Rabada and Lungi Ngidi, who were both going to be key players at the World Cup.
In the end, after intervention from CSA president Chris Nenzani, the board backed down from the proposal before the World Cup, ensuring that there would be no administrative interference in team selection at the tournament.
However, by then, the relationship between Gibson and the CSA leadership was on the rocks.
Gibson and Proteas team management had asked for intervention from Moroe and the CSA leadership in ensuring that a number of players had shortened stints at the 2019 Indian Premier League (IPL).
In January, the request had been made for Rabada and Ngidi to return two weeks early from the competition, which was due to start on March 23.
Gibson was told that Moroe would handle the situation, with it also being agreed in principle that the players would be financially compensated with CSA and the South African Cricketers Association (SACA) combining to pay 50% of what the players would have earned at the IPL during that time.
The closer it got to the start of the tournament, though, the clearer it became that CSA was powerless to the demands of the IPL.
After both Ngidi and Anrich Nortje were ruled out of the IPL before the tournament began, CSA made a request to the IPL that Rabada, Du Plessis and Quinton de Kock – who were all carrying various niggles or heavy workloads at the time – return to South Africa by April 28 – two weeks before the end of the tournament.
That request was met with a hostile ‘no’ from the IPL, which prompted Gibson to follow up with Moroe.
Gibson and the abovementioned Proteas players were unsure of when or if they would be let go from the tournament early, even during the tournament.
The players and coach did not know the plan.
Rabada, as it turns out, injured his back and returned home early, but Du Plessis and De Kock stayed at the tournament all the way through to the May 12 final, as did Imran Tahir, although he was not one of the players Gibson and team management had concerns over.
When probed mid-IPL on what the situation was regarding the players, Moroe confirmed to Gibson that it had been decided at an April 6 board meeting that CSA was not prepared to financially compensate its IPL players while they also saw no reason to unnecessarily bring the players back early.
This led to more correspondence from Gibson, who conveyed his disappointment to Moroe as to how the entire IPL situation had been handled.
Gibson, meanwhile, he has been linked as a possible replacement for England coach Trevor Bayliss.