Why Ottis Gibson’s arrival is “an important moment for Yorkshire County Cricket Club”
Gibson arrives at a critical time in the club’s history as it seeks to repair a reputation left shattered by the Azeem Rafiq racism crisis.
Gibson, who is the first black man to lead the Yorkshire first team, and only the second black head coach in county cricket this century after Gloucestershire’s Mark Alleyne, was the top target for managing director of cricket Gough.
He has an excellent track record, the 52-year-old former West Indies all-rounder having led his home nation to the T20 World Cup in 2012 and also worked as head coach of South Africa and as bowling coach for England (twice) and Bangladesh.
Gibson, who quit his role as Bangladesh bowling coach last week, will start his duties at the end of next month after honouring a coaching deal with Multan Sultans at the Pakistan Super League.
Gough is now finalising the two assistant coaching positions with which the former Yorkshire batsman and Pakistan captain Younus Khan and the ex-South Africa fast bowler Allan Donald have been linked.
Gough, the former Yorkshire and England pace bowler, has pulled off a major coup by recruiting Gibson, whose appointment emphasises the club’s commitment to creating a more diverse workforce as it seeks to become a leader in the very area in which some believed it had fallen behind.
“Ottis becoming head coach is an important moment for Yorkshire County Cricket Club and we are very happy that he has become part of the team,” said Gough.
“Ottis is one of the best coaches in the world and will be a fantastic addition. His knowledge, commitment, experience and cricket know-how will be vital for us as we move into pre-season and get ourselves up and running.
“We were absolutely blown away by the level of interest and quality of candidates for this role, but I have no doubt that he’s the best person for the job and will pick up the challenge with relish.”
Gibson said he was “extremely honoured and excited” to get the opportunity and is a well-known figure to county cricket followers, having served Glamorgan, Leicestershire and Durham with distinction as a player in addition to winning two Test and 15 one-day international caps for West Indies.
“This is one of the most prestigious roles in English county cricket and I am really looking forward to working with this talented group of players to take the club forward,” said Gibson.
“I’ve spoken at length with Goughy about the direction the club is heading in, and I’m excited to be a part of that future.”
Lord Kamlesh Patel, the new Yorkshire chairman, stressed the ‘inclusion’ element to Gibson’s appointment as he continues to work towards trying to restore the club’s international status.
Yorkshire were banned by the England and Wales Cricket Board from hosting major matches due to their handling of the Rafiq crisis, with a decision expected shortly on whether that ban will be lifted in time for this summer.
“Ottis’ character and his commitment to buying into the process that we are going through at Yorkshire County Cricket Club shone through in our discussions,” said Lord Patel, who revealed that Yorkshire had over 200 applications for the various coaching/backroom positions.
“He is someone that I know will encourage dialogue and help foster a culture of inclusion at the club, as well as supporting and developing the world-class talent we have here and pushing them to the next level. I look forward to working with Ottis over the coming weeks and months as we continue our rebuild of the club.”
If the response on social media is any indication, Gibson is certainly a popular appointment. “Best news to come out of the club in a long, long time,” said someone on Twitter. “A very astute appointment and one I can instantly get behind,” said another. “That’ll do”... “Now we’re talking”... and “We’re winning everything” were further flavours of the many complimentary and positive responses to the news.
Yorkshire, who will learn their fixtures for the new season at 1pm on Thursday, have also announced a key change to the club rules which is set to be ratified at the AGM in March. This would see the removal of the stipulation that approval is needed from the independent Colin Graves Trusts before someone can be appointed or removed from the board.
Roger Hutton, the former chair, claimed that this prevented him from removing key personnel during the racism saga but Yorkshire – who owe the Trusts over £15m – said: “In practice, the trustees’ consent to an appointment of a board member has never been withheld, and their consent to the removal of a board member has never been requested”, adding that the club has had “sole responsibility” for employment decisions.