NEW Proteas cricket coach Ottis Gibson returned home – his home away from home, that is – when his team flew into East London to play Bangladesh in their third one day international (ODI) match recently.
South Africa beat Bangladesh convincingly by 200 runs to clinch a 3-0 whitewash of the series, but something more than just the cricket put the West Indian in a jovial mood.
It was made all the more sweeter by the fact that Gibson had wrapped up the clean sweep on what was his home ground for three years while playing for Border and in the presence of close friends from his time here.
“I was in Buffalo Flats every weekend, so East London feels like coming home. It’s like my second home,” the former fast bowler said.
To help celebrate his coming home, the club he used to play for, United Cricket Club, took the opportunity to host a small function.
The event was not only for Gibson though, as it was one of those rare occurrences where the planets aligned to bring a few of United’s stars to East London at the same time.
It so happened that Charl Langeveldt, the Proteas bowling coach until he was fired this week, and the on-field umpire for the final ODI, Shaun George, all played for United.
Langeveldt, however, could not make it in time due to other commitments but international umpire George and Gibson joined current and former players and administrators of the club to reminisce, have a look at some of the players’s records for the club and see what role they played in bringing the club to where it is today.
Gibson has still kept in touch with friend “from 1992”, David Diedericks via e-mail and social media and also recalled playing for United.
“I remember coming to my first practice session thinking there will only be a few players there – but then I was greeted by about 75 people at the practice. It’s really good to see the club is still thriving,” said Gibson.
“It seems a bit ridiculous that a player for United in 1992 is now coach of South Africa,” he chuckled.
“But it shows there is an opportunity if you [youngsters] work hard. Everybody is born with a talent, when you find yours, follow it.” he added.
George shared these sentiments. He said umpiring at such a high level is not easy.
“There are lots of critics. It takes a whole lot of hard work and you have to believe in your own abilities to make it,” said George.
The former West Indian test player then talked about how he started, saying that he came from a similar background to a lot of players from the Parkside and Buffalo Flats area.
“I come from a very poor family but I made it around the world through hard work and dedication,” he said, and then turned to George.
“Shaun George would have definitely played South African cricket if more opportunities were there [back when they played together in the early to mid-’90s],” said Gibson.
He then turned to his new job, saying there’s lots of pressure being the Proteas coach, but lots of excitement too.
“There’s great talent within South Africa, so opportunities are there [for SA to do well]. India [touring South Africa in December/January] will give us an indication of where we are standing currently and then obviously Australia next year,” Gibson concluded.