Ottis: International cricket, not T20 circuit, still the pinnacle

Ottis Gibson (AP)
Ottis Gibson (AP)

Manchester - Proteas coach Ottis Gibson says that international cricket, in the age of the lucrative T20 circuit, is still the pinnacle of the sport.

South Africa under Gibson were eliminated from the 2019 World Cup in the group stages in bitterly disappointing fashion, and Gibson spoke in Manchester on Sunday about the difficulties they had experienced in terms of injuries to key players and a shortage of time in assembling their squad. 

Gibson also spoke about how South Africa had tried to get their IPL players to leave that tournament earlier this year to give them more time to prepare for the World Cup. 

That didn't happen, and instead Dale Steyn picked up a shoulder injury while on Royal Challengers Bangalore duty while Kagiso Rabada (Delhi Capitals) was sent home slightly earlier with a back strain. 

Steyn could not recover to play any part in the World Cup, while Rabada did not fire on all cylinders in England, taking just 11 wickets all tournament at an uncharacteristic average of 36.

Prioritising international cricket over the financially rewarding T20 roadshow is a problem facing cricket and the players on a global scale, particularly in those nations with economic challenges outside of the game.

Gibson, though, is old-school and he believes that representing your country should always mean more than anything else.

"I would like to think international cricket remains the pinnacle," Gibson said.

"It's clearly not the most lucrative, but Test cricket is still the best cricket for me.

"In white ball cricket, I would like to think everyone wants to win a World Cup. You feel more satisfaction than if you win the IPL. I would like to think representing your country is more of a big deal than winning the IPL."

Gibson, who is fighting to have his contract as Proteas coach extended beyond September, has never worked in the IPL and he believes that the saturation of the T20 circuit is damaging cricket.

"Is there a need for every single country to have a T20 league? Because the T20 leagues just drag more and more players out of international cricket," he said.

"A T20 league in Canada when Canada doesn’t even have first-class cricket, is that good for the game? I don’t know.

"The more T20 leagues that spring up, the more people see the lure of the dollar, the pound, the rand and the more people think they can make a lot of money doing this.

"I’m sure the ICC know about it. I am not standing here telling you things they don't already know."

On a coaching level, Gibson believes that having the opportunity to lead a national team is still where coaches want to end up. 

"For me to get an opportunity to coach in SA is a huge deal for me and my family. We have thoroughly enjoyed being in SA and we are hoping it continues, but we'll see," he said.

South Africa's Mzansi Super League, meanwhile, has been given the green light to go ahead for what will be its second edition in November and December.

@LloydBurnard is in England covering the 2019 Cricket World Cup for Sport24 ...  

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