By Nick Said
CAPETOWN (Reuters) – South Africa coach Ottis Gibson believes weather will play its part in deciding the outcome of the Cricket World Cup in England and Wales.
South Africa play England in the tournament opener at The Oval on May 30 and Gibson, who had two spells as England bowling coach, says he is unsure what conditions his side will face over the next six weeks.
“England can be interesting, it depends on the weather,” he told reporters on Tuesday.
“They are forecasting a hot spell coming up in the next couple of months, so perhaps the tracks will be a lot dryer.
“England lends itself to high-scoring games. The weather will play a part in that. I believe the conditions will play a huge part in the outcome of the World Cup.”
Gibson is not the only member of the South African coaching set-up that has vast experience of cricket in England as spin bowling coach Claude Henderson and batting coach Dale Benkenstein both spent a decade playing county cricket.
“I’ve had two stints in England and I still live in England,” Gibson said. “Claude had 10 years at Leicester. Dale Benkenstein played 10 years at Durham. So from a point of view of conditions, we can give insight.”
Gibson adds that England are his favourites to lift the trophy in home conditions.
“They are the favourites aren’t they? I recall some time ago (England bowler) Jimmy Anderson saying they would have to do something terrible not to win the World Cup, which is good for them.”
And he believes Barbados-born all-rounder Jofra Archer will be part of the final squad after being left out of England’s preliminary selection.
“They have got a good thing going, Jofra Arthur will add some spice to their attack and I can’t see how they are not going to pick him to be honest,” Gibson said.
“He is a guy from my home of Barbados, so I would be very happy to see him putting on an England shirt and playing in the World Cup.”
South Africa have previously found calamitous ways of exiting World Cup tournaments, including a terrible run-out when they needed one run to win a semi-final in England in 1999.
Gibson, however, said they would not speak publicly about past failures that have led to the side being labelled ‘chokers’.
“We have decided that we are not going to speak about it. One team has to win and one team has to lose, and then it comes down to how you guys (the media) write about the loss.
“When we win off the last ball, nobody says anything about the opposition. But when we lose off the last ball then it is about that thing that happened.”
(Reporting by Nick Said; Editing by Toby Davis)