BETRAYAL! KYLE, RILEE DISAPPOINT DOMINGO
Proteas coach blasts players who have left the national set-up to take up Kolpak contracts with Hampshire
IN what will assuredly not be the last word on the Kolpak saga threatening to engulf South African cricket, Proteas coach Russell Domingo has certainly been brutally honest about it.
Domingo launched a scathing attack yesterday on former national team batsman Rilee Rossouw who, along with fast bowler Kyle Abbott, have opted to pursue their professional careers with English County Championship side Hampshire and effectively retire from the Proteas. In response, Cricket South Africa terminated Abbott’s contract yesterday and are in the process of following a similar plan with Rossouw.
Listening to the fury in Domingo’s voice when addressing the media at the conclusion of the Test series victory over Sri Lanka here at Newlands, it would not be too far-fetched to suggest that the Proteas mentor would want to tear up Rossouw’s national contract.
It is, though, not just anger bristling inside Domingo. It seems more to be a case of betrayal, for Domingo was a firm supporter of the 27-year-old since he made his international debut back in 2014.
Those were testing times for Rossouw, then only 23, with Domingo shielding his young protégé after the left-hander made a less than auspicious start to his ODI career that yielded four ducks in his first six matches. Despite these troubles, Domingo often fought a lone battle for Rossouw to be seated on the plane to last year’s World Cup in Australasia, where he eventually played in that fateful Auckland semi-final and even batted ahead of AB de Villiers at Eden Park.
“Rilee … very disappointed. I haven’t heard from Rilee since we left Australia, to be honest. Some of us have tried to get hold of him, and this is the truth, we got an e-mail from him off his iPhone telling us he’s signed Kolpak. He spelt my name wrong for starters. He wrote one L instead of two LL’s. That’s where we are. I am bitterly disappointed in him. That’s the truth. He toured Australia as the back-up Test batsman. He was the next batsman in,” said Domingo.
“He’s played one-day cricket and lots of T20 cricket for us. He’s the guy we backed after five noughts. If that was a player of colour who got five noughts, everyone would have said transformation. He’s a guy we’ve invested in massively and I am bitterly disappointed.”
Domingo’s displeasure stretched through to Abbott too, although with not so much vitriol. Both players would have been an integral part of South Africa’s plans for the latest assault on an ICC trophy when the Champions Trophy rolls into the United Kingdom in May and Domingo at least wanted an opportunity to share his future plans with the duo.
Cricket South Africa chief executive Haroon Lorgat also expressed his “disappointment” and “surprise” at the way all the deals were conducted although he explicitly stated that subsequent discussions would not have been about “flashing cheques in front of them”. “I had discussions with Kyle six to eight months ago, encouraging him to hang in, to stay within the system while (Morné) Morkel, (Dale) Steyn and (Kagiso) Rabada were fit. I thought it had subsided, and hadn’t heard the talk again until two days ago. That was also a disappointment for me that the whole thing has unfolded without being consulted or us even being allowed to pitch at least a sales pitch to him,” Domingo explained.
“Nobody is guaranteed a place to play for his country. I can’t guarantee it. Nobody has the right to play for his country. But he has a good chance as any other player to play for his country. That has been the disappointment that we weren’t allowed to sales pitch, whether it’s about forward planning as to where we see him. We weren’t allowed to present that to him before he made his decision.”
Domingo felt further let down that despite Abbott’s initial struggle to become a regular in the national team due to the presence of world class bowlers like Steyn and Morkel previously, he’s recently had the favour of the national selectors.
“We took him ahead of Dale to the West Indies. He played ahead of Morné in the West Indies.
“He played against Australia here when we beat them 5-0. He’s been doing it for a period of time.”