Cricket SA v Ban

The exit of Ottis Gibson is a big loss for Bangladesh

“Gibson would not coach the youngsters of Bangladesh anymore. The news came as a big blow for many because under him the toothless Bangladesh bowling attack was coming back to track”

Ottis Gibson is all about impact. During his playing days, he always played with a big heart and injected efforts that proved fruitful for the team. A man with a strong personality and the courage to face any challenges, Gibson fought against injuries and adversities to peruse a cricketing career that includes some of the most eye-popping displays.

Gibson was a hard-hitting late middle-order batter who was particularly effective in the closing overs of the innings while his bowling was medium-fast that had scripted some memorable spells.

He was not given enough opportunities in test matches but had a decent One-day career. He played in 15 One Day Internationals, top-scoring with 52 against Australia and taking best figures of 5 for 42 against Sri Lanka. He took another 5-wicket haul against the same opposition and two four-fors, finishing with an impressive bowling average of 18.26.

2nd Test Match - England v West Indies

Gibson took 10 for 47 against Hampshire, becoming the 79th bowler in first-class cricket to take 10 wickets in an innings and the first in the County Championship since Richard Johnson in 1994. Hampshire finished 115 all out, but despite Gibson’s wickets, the match ended in a draw.

Later in 2007, Gibson bowled Durham to victory, again against Hampshire, in the Friends Provident Trophy. After setting 312 to win, with Gibson smashing fifteen off just seven balls, the Dynamos bowled out the Hawks for 187.

Gibson had Michael Lumb and Sean Ervine caught by Michael Di Venuto first and the second ball of the innings respectively, both for 0. He then had Kevin Pietersen out lbw for 12 to leave Hampshire 17 for 3, finishing with figures of 3 for 24. He picked up the Player of the Match award for his efforts.

Gibson remarked after the game, “Unbelievable. But we’ve got four games left and if I’m going to get through them I’m going to have to cut down on the celebrations a little bit.”

“He was a different bowler every week, depending on the wicket,” recalled Jon Tweats.

“He would often stay over in Leek to make sure we got off-the-pitch time with him,” said Tweats.

Cricket - Liverpool Victoria County Championship - Division One - Day Two - Worcestershire Royals v Durham Dynamos - New Road

“Various lads put him up in our spare rooms. Despite having spent many nights in the best nightclubs and restaurants around the world, he still claims to this day that the best night of his life was spent in the Blue Mugge pub in Leek listening to town clown Kenny Scragg’s stories.”

He was also a more than handy batsman, too, as chairman and Captain Brian Mellor says.

“When trying to hit sixes he actually used to aim for a tree 20 yards over the boundary. Nothing ever affected his confidence. He’d have a game plan, and if he got out for a duck, so what? He was still the same player with the same talent.”

Yes, I repeat, Gibson is all about impact.

After retiring from cricket, Gibson persuaded a career in coaching and yet again, his impact was felt.

During his tenure as the bowling coach of England, Stuart Broad heaped praise for Gibson stating that the bold West Indian had a huge contribution in improving his bowling, especially against the left-handers. Broad might had a successful time against the right-handers but against the southpaws, he was found wanting.

England v Australia: 5th Investec Ashes Test - Day Four

Gibson advised Broad to bowl round the wicket and move the ball away more by exploiting the bowling crease – a bit of change in action helped Broad master the art of toppling left-handers.

“I definitely feel like I’ve improved. I think probably the biggest thing that’s helped my game is my improvement to left-handed batsmen. Bowling round the wicket is quite a new thing for me. That’s been a big development in my game and I have to thank Gibbo (Ottis Gibson) for helping me with that and pushing me to keep improving,” said Broad in an interview during the successful Test series against South Africa in 2015.

The English bowlers enjoyed a great time under Gibson since he was reappointed in 2015 – they had tasted successes against Australia, New Zealand, West Indies, Sri Lanka and Pakistan.

The Gibson impact on England in Test: James Anderson had become England’s all-time leading wicket-taker; Stuart Broad had reached the top, the bowling of Ben Stokes achieved more potency, his Durham colleague Mark Wood increased his deceptiveness, and Steve Finn became a real deal.

England Nets Session In St Kitts

Then he joined South Africa and under him – Kagiso Rabada reached the top while young guns like Lungi Ngidi and Anrich Nortje started to flourish.

“I spent a lot of time with [Kagiso] Rabada. His progression to No. 1 bowler in the world in six to eight months’ time – is that me or him? It is surely him. He is the one with the talent. All I did was impart a little bit of my knowledge. He had a really good spell against Australia and India. He is a quality bowler. I am just happy to have played a small part in his journey as a cricketer,” Gibson said in an interview.

“I also spent a lot of time with [Lungi] Ngidi. His issues are going to be around his fitness. He is very talented. His fitness continues to let him down, and it is something he must address.”

England & West Indies Net Sessions

“We saw [Anrich] Nortje last summer in the Mzansi Super League. We picked him for the World Cup, but unfortunately, he got injured. My strategy for South Africa was to get the best fast bowlers, which would help us win matches at home.”

“Dale Steyn got injured. Morne Morkel retired shortly after I got there. There’s always been a hell of a lot of talent in South Africa. Watching the Test match the last couple of days [in Centurion against England], it is evident that there’s a lot of talent there.”

The next stoppage for Gibson was Bangladesh and immediately he made his presence felt.

“I have really been impressed with Ebadot who can clock 140kph,” Gibson said after being appointed as the bowling coach of Bangladesh.

Ottis Gibson observing Taskin Ahmed. Image Courtesy: ESPNcricinfo

“There’s Taskin who is still there. I have had some time to chat with him. He is still hungry to get involved. Khaled has been injured for a while.”

“Young Hasan Mahmud has really impressed me too. I have a lot of faith in him. He can really break through and become a top international Bangladeshi fast bowler. I have high hopes from him. He is very hungry to learn. He has a fantastic action that can only get better, so it will be interesting to see how he goes over the next few.”

“The bowlers genuinely have a lot of skill but they lack experience. They only get one spell in domestic cricket. Even if they pick two fast bowlers, the captain generally tends to go to the spinners if there’s a crisis. The fast bowlers never really get to bowl in pressure situations.”

“It is a very different story when we go abroad. We are relying on the fast bowlers to do the job away from home but they lack experience in closing out games, even back home in domestic cricket. We must look at the way we play domestic cricket.”

Ottis Gibson observing Mustafizur Rahman and Rubel Hossain. Image Courtesy: UNB News

Taskin Ahmed, since changing his bowling action, had been cutting a frustrating figure, but recently one could witness his improvement with the ball. Taskin could be seen landing his foot on the right position along with a better head position and the bowling arm looked much better. Taskin has achieved more intensity regarding the line and length and generates enough pace as well.

Taskin’s massive boost was due to Gibson.

Meanwhile, the evolution of Ebadot Hossain has been outstanding.

Ebadot has all the talent but lacked the intensity – Gibson worked on the shortcomings and at present Ebadot is one of the most potent fast bowlers in Bangladesh.

In the frustrating Test series against Pakistan at home, Ebadot shone while in New Zealand his staggering effort helped Bangladesh win a Test back there for the first time.

Then there is that young Shoriful Islam, who has become a very good new-ball partner.

Gibson has helped Shoriful to exploit the shine of the new cherry and how to achieve more swing when the conditions are favourable.

“We have been working on swinging the ball a lot. I think you will see everyone swung the ball at some point today. We tend to bowl back of length in Bangladesh because we don’t get much swing there. Here, we pitched the ball up quite a lot fuller. We have been working hard since getting off the plane in Christchurch,” Gibson said after the historic Test victory at Mount Maunganui.

Gibson believes in investing faith in youngsters rather than big names that had passed their best.

Ottis Gibson with Mashrafe Bin Mortaza. Image Courtesy: UNB News

He was never shy to speak the truth and that’s why he boldly suggested Mashrafe Bin Mortaza retire from international cricket with pride.

I think he has had an outstanding international career,” Gibson said during an interaction with the press back in 2020.

“He has done himself and his country proud. With the next World Cup in 2023, any international coach will now start to build a team. I am quite sure that’s what Russell will be thinking. So he would want to see players like young Hasan Mahmud, [Mohammad] Saifuddin, Shafiul [Islam] and Ebadot [Hossain]. We haven’t seen Ebadot in white-ball cricket yet. There’s Taskin [Ahmed] and Khaled [Ahmed] gets fit again. We have Hasan and [Mehedi Hasan] Rana. So there are a lot of young cricketers in the country.”

This was the first time a coaching staff member has explicitly asked Mortaza – currently an MP of the ruling party – to retire and perhaps that did not go well.

Gibson would not coach the youngsters of Bangladesh anymore.

The news came as a big blow for many because under him the toothless Bangladesh bowling attack was coming back to track.

Ottis Gibson giving bowling tips to Ebadot Hossain. Image Courtesy: UNB News

“It’s disappointing. He has coached great players. [James]Anderson, Stuard Broad, Mark Wood and [Kagiso] Rabada still call him and take advice from him. It would be good for us if he stayed because the graph of improvement is strong. I think all pace bowlers improved under him. You can ask Taskin or Shoriful or Rahi and they’ll say the same thing. Everyone had great chemistry with him. We have the South Africa series ahead and Ottis has good knowledge of their conditions. We could have learned a bit more if he stayed,” said a sad Ebadot to the reporters.

Suddenly, why did Gibson leave?

“It’d be wrong to say that I quit my job. Actually, the duration of my contract came to an end. You could say that the duration [of contract] was not extended,” Gibson said to Ekush Tapader, reporter of Daily Star.

“No one from the BCB (Bangladesh Cricket Board) contacted me about the contract [renewal], no one called. Neither Nizam Chowdhury nor the chairman of Cricket Operations, I did not get any response from them. I had sent an e-mail to CEO Nizamuddin on December 29, but he did not respond. Khaled Mahmud Sujan was present then, I had a talk with him. But he did not want to comment regarding my presence or absence.”

“The rest of the coaches’ contracts were extended before the [T20] World Cup. At that time I still had more than 60 days left of my previous contract so the talk of a new contract did not happen at that point. Now, when the time came, a discussion was imminent but they did not raise the topic. There was no impression that I would continue here.”

“Only the Head Coach (Russell Domingo) contract was renewed before world Cup [T20] World Cup. Ryan Cook’s (fielding coach) contract expired during World Cup. No one spoke to him after World Cup, we all went home and then he got an email saying his services were no longer required.  At that time I still had more than 60 days left of my previous contract so the talk of a new contract did not happen at that point. Now, when the time came, a discussion was imminent but they did not raise the topic. There was no impression that I would continue here.”

The exit of another competent coach like Gibson would not bring anything good for Bangladesh cricket that is run by syndication – as suggested by insiders.

This syndication is dubbed to be run by some of the senior players and local coaches who use their political and media connections in a bad way to run the show – ultimately, such people are hailed as heroes whereas, their activities, behind the curtains, deserve harsh criticism.

Already, Bangladesh have lost Chandika Hathurusingha, Steve Rhodes and now, Gibson due to petty politics.

Is Bangladesh cricket totally imprisoned by this so-called syndication?

I think it is – and in the long term, the loser would be Bangladesh cricket at the benefit of this syndication.