South Africa coach Ottis Gibson eyeing top spot in Test rankings
South Africa head coach Ottis Gibson.
Ottis Gibson has challenged South Africa to climb back to the top of the Test rankings with series wins over India and Australia in the coming months.
Second-placed South Africa need a clean sweep in the three-match series against India and at least a two-Test winning margin from the four games against Australia in March to return to number one.
Their first challenge comes in Cape Town on Friday when Virat Kohli's side begin its tour and Gibson, a former West Indies coach, knows it is a huge task for the Proteas.
But it is one the coach is motivated to achieve, believing the Test rankings hold more gravitas than in other formats of the game.
"In ODI cricket I don’t worry too much about the rankings, but in Test cricket it is a lot different," Gibson told a media conference.
"You play a series against the best teams in the world and then the prize at the end of it is to reach the pinnacle and be called the best team in the world - even if it is just for a series or a week.
"The objective for this team is to try and get to number one. We feel strongly that if we win the next two series that will put us somewhere very close to being number one again.
"The next two series will tell us [where we stand] or take us somewhere towards where we want to go. Everybody understands what we are trying to achieve."
India come into the tour on the back of nine successive Test series triumphs, a run that stretches all the way back to August 2015 in Sri Lanka.
However, they have never won in South Africa on their previous six visits – losing five and drawing one.
The last of those was in 2013, a time when India were perceived to struggle away from home, but Gibson knows the current side have no such problems.
He added: "They are currently ranked number one and they’ve got a lot of world class players and world class players aren't just world class in their own back yards.
"They're a very good team and I think they will travel a lot better now.
"We know for sure that it is going to be a tough series. I don't think you’re going to see them fold as much as they may have done in the past."