Proteas coach blasts play­ers who have left the na­tional set-up to take up Kol­pak con­tracts with Hamp­shire

The Star Early Edition - - SPORT - ZAAHIER ADAMS

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.”

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