With a 2-0 Test series victory over Bangladesh out of the way, Ottis Gibson, the new South Africa head coach, has started planning for the 2019 World Cup.
South Africa won the second Test with two days to spare, and now prepare for the first of three One-Day Internationals against Bangladesh in Kimberley on Sunday. That game will mark the first stage on a long road to the showpiece event in the United Kingdom.
Gibson has been charged with ending South Africa’s failure to win a major global event.
“We’ve got about 30 to 35 one-day games between now and 2019. The idea between Faf (du Plessis, the captain) and myself and the selectors is to have a look at players, to give opportunities to players who might be on the fringes, so that in a year’s time we narrow that pool down,” said Gibson on Monday (October 9).
“At the moment we need a wide pool of players to look at so we can start to see who we might need, also bearing in mind the conditions. We’ll be playing in England, so we’ll be looking at the type of players we might need for those conditions, to give them opportunities in the next year.”
Gibson said that in the year leading up to the World Cup, he hoped to have a good idea of which players to take. “The last year is to try to nail down 15 or 16 names we can pencil in. But it’s still a long way between now and then,” he said.
Gibson has had talks with Morne Morkel, who has reportedly been thinking of accepting a county contract in England if he didn’t get assurances that he would be part of the World Cup plans.
“That’s not my understanding,” said Gibson. “I absolutely didn’t tell him anything about the World Cup because it is so far away. I encouraged him to enjoy his cricket, which he was doing last week until he pulled up (with an injury).”
Gibson was looking forward to meeting AB de Villiers, who has not been available for Test cricket but has been active otherwise. De Villiers was also scheduled to turn out for a South African Invitation XI in a warm-up match against Bangladesh in Bloemfontein on Thursday, ahead of the ODIs.
“We’re all looking forward to seeing AB in the next week,” said Gibson. “I’ve had a few conversations with him, but we haven’t had a face-to-face yet.”
Gibson said he was pleased with the way the Test team had performed in the one-sided series against Bangladesh.
“At the start of the season everyone said ‘easy series’, but you still have to go and play cricket,” pointed out Gibson. “We’re very happy with the cricket we played. I said to the players, if you believe the opposition isn’t that good, you must play to a standard and we’ve played to a very high standard.”