When he was brought in as coach back in March 2010,Ottis Gibson was in many ways an oddity. The West Indians hadnt had one of their own in-charge of the team for close to six years. The last man from the Caribbean to be officially appointed coach was Gus Logie,who had stepped down following the Champions Trophy triumph in England back in 2004.
Many in the Caribbean still didnt see Gibson as being the right man for the job. He had been away too long in England,they said. Years of county cricket followed by a successful stint as Englands bowling coach had kept the former West Indies pacer away from his homeland. He couldnt relate with the vagaries of the West Indian setup after having been an integral part of the highly professional support staff network in England,it was said.
All this before he had to deal with the Chris Gayle issue within a year of his reign,an issue that threatened diplomatic relations between the islands. Gibson though,rode the wave,sticking to his no-nonsense approach and instilling a never-before-seen sense of discipline into the unit. That was then.
These days,coach Gibson has gained an almost reverential standing in a team he has worked really hard to improve. Ever present at practice sessions,the 44-year-old rarely takes a breather,however hot or humid the conditions. If hes not having a one-on-one session with a junior player on the sidelines,hes busy throwing down balls to one of the seniors. Most of his time during training though is spent in the nets,as the burly seamer looks to roll back the years by competing with his young legion of pacers in terms of pace and consistency. Over time,Gibson has managed to win over the hardest critics while those who didnt fit into his mould have been gently eased out of the system.
I try to make it as enjoyable as possible. I try to pass on what Ive learnt from the likes of Marshall,Ambrose and Walsh. I also try to get under the skin of the young batsmen and see how they react, explained Gibson,who played two Tests and 15 ODIs for the West Indies before shifting base to England.
The West Indians progress has been stop-start under Gibson but they have started winning more matches than ever before. For the first time in two decades,they have gone unbeaten in six straight Tests,not to forget the World T20 triumph last year in Sri Lanka. Gibsons leadership qualities that won him rave reviews during his various county stints have begun making an impact on his wards.
Look at where we were three years ago and where we are now. Lot of new players are emerging and weve been winning more matches and competing with the bigger teams too, he added.
But the coach blames the ICCs FTP schedule for West Indies prolonged presence in the bottom-half of the rankings despite their new and improved consistency.
We are not playing the top teams that often. Last year,we played mostly against Zimbabwe,New Zealand and Bangladesh. Its very unrealistic for us to gain points. The progress of any team can be assessed only when they play against the top teams like Australia,India,England or South Africa. But unfortunately,we are not playing any of them in the next two years. The FTP is ridiculous and loaded in favour of the top teams. See England and Australia playing 10 Tests in the next few months, said Gibson.
Whether his team does manage to break through into the top half of the rankings or not,coach Gibson for sure has raised his profile significantly,despite having come in as an outsider in his own land.