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

The Star Early Edition - - SPORT - ZAAHIER ADAMS

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.”

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