Domingo still has a role to play
His time as Proteas coach could be up but other mentoring posts beckon
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.