Domingo still has a role to play

His time as Proteas coach could be up but other men­tor­ing posts beckon

The Star Early Edition - - SPORT -

Stu­art Hess

RUSSELL Domingo will ar­rive back in Port Elizabeth this morn­ing, turn on the ket­tle and share a cup of cof­fee with his wife. His time as Proteas coach is seem­ingly over.

He leaves the na­tional team in a state of dis­ar­ray, but that’s not his fault – not en­tirely. “I took over a side that was es­tab­lished, then lost a lot of play­ers, went through dip, re-es­tab­lished some, lost a few play­ers again… we sort of es­tab­lished some­thing again, but then we lost Dale (Steyn), Ver­non (Phi­lan­der) and AB (de Vil­liers) and that sets you back a lit­tle bit more,” said Domingo.

Un­der his guid­ance, the Proteas went from be­ing the no 1 Test side to be­ing no 7 and then in less than a year were back up to no 2 – where they re­main de­spite the loss to Eng­land. The limited overs sides have also been ranked highly, but in those for­mats it’s the ICC tro­phies that mat­ter and, un­der Domingo, South Africa got no closer to win­ning one of those than any of his pre­de­ces­sors.

“There’s al­ways room for im­prove­ment. I’m not sure where we are ranked now, but we were no 1 and 2 in one-day­ers a few months ago. For a team that has a lot of chal­lenges, we’ve done okay,” he said.

Domingo had still not re­ceived word from Cricket South Africa about what his fu­ture role will be. He is de­ter­mined to re­main in South African cricket cir­cles in some form, with talks about pos­si­bly be­com­ing the SA un­der 19 coach or even the SA A side coach.

“Whichever level I coach at, that’s my job. That’s what I love do­ing and as long as I can play some part in South African cricket I’ll be glad to stay.”

Domingo has been with the na­tional team for six years, first com­ing on board as Gary Kirsten’s as­sis­tant in 2011. He took over as head coach in 2013, with the high­lights of his ten­ure com­ing in the Test for­mat with the se­ries win in Aus­tralia last Novem­ber.

That was achieved with­out Steyn, Morné Morkel and De Vil­liers, and it is prob­a­bly why, de­spite the doom and gloom that cur­rently hangs over the team, Domingo re­mains op­ti­mistic about the side’s fu­ture.

“I think Keshav (Ma­haraj) is go­ing to be the best spin­ner South Africa’s ever had. He’s fan­tas­tic! Think of the roles he can ful­fil – he’s got a tight ham­string, he’s got a big cut on his fin­ger, but he keeps go­ing. He’s a fan­tas­tic young bowler.”

On the bat­ting front, he pleaded with the pub­lic and selec­tors to show pa­tience with the man cur­rently oc­cu­py­ing the no 4 spot in the Test lineup’s bat­ting or­der.

“Temba Bavuma has shown so much prom­ise. I hon­estly be­lieve he’s got the tech­nique to be­come one of South Africa’s best play­ers. But you’ve got to per­se­vere with him, you can’t af­ter 20 Tests – be­cause he’s av­er­ag­ing 30 – get rid of him. You’ve got to in­vest in those types of play­ers. You’ve got to give them time to de­velop.

“There are def­i­nite holes in the Test side that need a bit a of at­ten­tion, some tin­ker­ing which must take place,” he ex­plained. “There’s a lot of learn­ing we can take from (the Eng­land) se­ries. Who­ever the coach is I’m sure he’d have high­lighted a few ar­eas we can im­prove on and hope­fully we can do that over the next cou­ple of months.”

The last six months since CSA an­nounced that he’d have to reap­ply for his job have been chal­leng­ing, but no more so than at any other pe­riod since he took over as head coach.

“It’s been a long time, I sup­pose. Hope­fully there’ll be some fi­nal­ity in the next cou­ple of days. I’m not sure what’s hap­pen­ing, but by all me­dia ac­counts, from what I’m led to be­lieve, there is some process tak­ing place at the mo­ment, so we’ll wait and see when I get back home,” said Domingo.

“All coaches work un­der that sort of en­vi­ron­ment. I said this a few months ago, I could be fired the very next se­ries. That’s just the na­ture of the job, you’ve got to fo­cus on what you can con­trol. I can’t con­trol what meet­ings are tak­ing place and what de­ci­sions need to be made. I’ve tried to give the team my best en­ergy at all times and tried to lead them as best I pos­si­bly can – that’s been my fo­cus. It’s not been dif­fi­cult,” he said.

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