Russell Domingo said South Africa hoped to have a new batting coach on board soon © Getty Images
When you’re next in a book store, look out for They Think We Are Stupid. That is the title of a book Russell Domingo, South Africa’s coach, is threatening to write, presumably to shed light on some of the decisions made in South African cricket that have been questioned in the aftermath of back-to-back series losses.
As expected when defeats are analysed, everything from selection to the make-up of the support staff will come under scrutiny and, with South Africa being shot out for their two lowest totals since readmission over the last two series, the absence of a batting coach has been glaring. But Domingo explained it was not for lack of trying.
“Everybody thinks we have not been looking for a batting coach but we’ve been trying for the last year,” he said. “Every team’s got it. England have got one, Australia have got one, India have got one. We’ve offered the position to quite a few people and we offered the position whilst things were going well not whilst we’ve been bowled out for 80 and 90.”
In the near future, South Africa hope one of the people they have offered the job to will take it. “We’ve been looking for somebody and we’ve got somebody in mind. We are waiting for him to commit to us. We’ve had a few people who said they were interested but they wouldn’t commit to it simply because traveling is not that fun when you are away from your family for a long time and when there is a lot of pressure and a lot of criticism you are faced with when things don’t go well. It’s probably easier to say it and write about it than to actually get down and do it.”
Domingo did not reveal who the “somebody” was and was not asked whether former captain Graeme Smith could be the man, although that seems unlikely. Smith became the fourth batting consultant in Domingo’s tenure, after Gary Kirsten, Mike Hussey and Lance Klusener, when he was roped in for a net session ahead of the Newlands Test. Hashim Amla, captain at the time, thought Smith had signed on for the full series but his commentary commitments prevented him from doing that.
So continued a drawn-out saga which started when Smith suggested there was unhappiness in the team camp in Durban, where the first Test was played, before being pulled into the tent. Once back out, following the Johannesburg Test, Smith said everybody should be questioned, including team management.
One South Africa player, Dean Elgar, moved quickly to defend the back room, who he said deserved a lot of praise. AB de Villiers, who was criticised in the media by selector and commentator Ashwell Prince, remembered how when some former players were active, they said they would “never become like that” and take shots at the team.
Against the waves of attack, the South Africa squad stood firm, which pleased Domingo even more than the consolation win in the final Test against England.
“The main thing I take out of it was the way side responded to a lot of noise that has come from the public and the media,” he said. “When you have one or two bad series, everybody makes you sound like you are the worst players and the worst coaches in the world which is not necessarily the case.
“That’s why when you do have one or two good series you are not necessarily the best side in the world and the best coaches in the world. You’ve got to keep a balance. Our players have maintained their composure really well through some tough times. To play the way they have played these last couple of days makes the coaching staff really proud because it has been a tough series.”
The Centurion win may silence some of those sounds but even if it doesn’t, Domingo has learned to shut most of it out. “When you’re losing, there’s always going to be a lot of noise so you’ve just got to believe what you are doing as a team is good enough to withstand that,” he said. “Hopefully this performance will quieten that noise until something else comes up.”
There may be another six months before that something else actually happens because that is the gap between Tests for South Africa. In that time, despite inactivity, South Africa hope to be able to find some of what they had before, which Domingo somewhat enviously pointed out England have now.
“England are very fortunate that they have what South Africa had a year or two ago – four frontline seamers and a spinner,” Domingo said. “South Africa don’t have someone like Ben Stokes who scores hundreds and takes five-wicket hauls. Jacques Kallis used to do that. Their bowling all-round strength is a massive factor. Bowlers win you games and that has been the difference as far as I’m concerned – they have sustained the pressure a lot better than we did throughout the series.”
Questions over the lack of a South African allrounder since Kallis have also swirled. Perhaps Domingo’s book will have some answers.
Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo’s South Africa correspondent
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Source: ESPN Crickinfo