No kidding around, Elgar takes charge
With Du Plessis back home, a new captain will lead first Test against England, while Domingo hopes to stay on as coach
SOUTH Africa are about to play England in a series-opening Test at Lord’s. This, as always, is a grand occasion to savour.
Yet, just a few days out from the action in St John’s Wood there is no talk about the actual cricket.
The visitors, desperate to rescue a tour that went spectacularly south during the white-ball component, just can’t seem to focus squarely on the task at hand.
Both captain and coach have returned to South Africa at some point to deal with pressing family matters, which undoubtedly would have exhausted much mental energy. Others, meanwhile, have observed their mourning period by shaving their heads.
Often professional sportspeople operate within a bubble debarred from the “real world”. This cannot be said of this current Proteas team who have faced numerous off-field challenges of late.
But at least yesterday brought some clarity. Test captain Faf du Plessis will not be back in time to lead the Proteas at Lord’s. Although his wife Imari gave birth to their baby daughter last Thursday already, according to team manager and doctor Mohammed Moosajee “the difficult nature of the delivery” meant Du Plessis had to remain in South Africa for a little while longer.
Dean Elgar will captain in Du Plessis’ absence, and will become the 12th player since readmission to captain the South African Test team.
Du Plessis took to social media to express his disappointment at missing out on what is likely to be his sole opportunity of playing a Lord’s Test.
South Africa will undoubtedly miss Du Plessis’s calm leadership and tactical acumen, in addition to his batting, but at least new captain Elgar will have Russell Domingo by his side to guide him through his maiden captaincy Test.
Domingo is back in London after rushing to be at the bedside of his mother, who was involved in a terrible car accident last week.
But not only is the 42-yearold back in the Proteas saddle, he is intent on remaining there for a while yet after confirming he reapplied and has been interviewed for the post when his contract expires at the end of the England tour.
“I have forwarded my application form and I did go through an interview process,” Domingo confirmed yesterday. “I can’t comment too much further on that because there’s obviously a process that needs to take place now.”
The process involves a five-man panel, appointed by Cricket South Africa (CSA) that includes two former national coaches, Gary Kirsten and Eric Simons, who are to make their recommendations to the board when they next meet on July 21. A final decision will be announced after the England series.
Independent Media understands that South Africa ‘A’ coach Shukri Conrad and Highveld Lions’ Geoff Toyana have also been interviewed, but Domingo was not willing to speculate on how the board would conduct their affairs.
“It’s not something I go to bed thinking about or wake up in the morning thinking about,” Domingo said. “The way I see it is that there’s due process that needs to take place. They need to decide if I’m the right guy to take the team forward. That’s how it is.”
Regardless of what the CSA board decides, Domingo does have the full support of the senior players.
“Player support is massively important,” Domingo said. “I’ve loved my time working with them and by the support they’ve shown they’ve enjoyed what we’ve offered the team. That is satisfying.”