Russell Domingo must be the most relaxed dead man walking. Why would you hang out with journalists for an hour before a press conference, if you were about to get the chop?
That is exactly what Domingo recently did when he mingled freely with journalists, as he and the team prepared to jet off to the Champions Trophy in the UK.
South Africa’s first national cricket coach of colour entertained questions about his future, and answered them with the conviction of a man with the full support and backing of his employers.
Two days after his departure to the UK, CSA announced that its Board had nominated a selection panel to choose the next Proteas coach, who will be in place by the start of September. The panel consists of Norman Arendse SC, Rihan Richards, Oupa Nkagisang, Eric Simons and Gary Kirsten.
So much for support, right? Well, actually, if you look at how CSA has handled the issue, it is commendable. They have instituted a process to find the best possible candidate to coach the national team, and which doesn’t rule Domingo out. His name will be in the hat when the decision is made.
Domingo has come a long way since replacing Mickey Arthur as head coach of the Warriors in 2005 after Arthur was appointed Proteas coach. At the time, Domingo signed up Kirsten as a consultant, and it proved a successful relationship.
When Kirsten replaced Arthur as Proteas coach in 2011, he appointed Domingo as his assistant coach, grooming him to take over the job. And now Kirsten sits on a panel to decide his fate, once again.
Domingo’s supporters will point to his success in bilateral series, his grooming of young players, and his work to rebuild the SA team after sudden retirements of marquee players. But the fact remains that SA have failed dismally in world events, and for many, that is unacceptable.
There have long been concerns that a team with such talent has failed to win significant ICC silverware, and that could very well see the end of Domingo, if the Proteas return home empty handed from the ICC Champions Trophy.
Domingo tested fans by giving the whole squad a run in the three-match ODI series against England, allowing players to acclimatize to early season conditions and let selectors make informed decisions in the Champions Trophy.
After winning two warm up matches, the Proteas came unstuck against a well-oiled England machine, before winning the third in astounding style, although some critics said it didn’t count because it was a “dead rubber”.
I have a lot of respect for Domingo and his contribution to South African cricket. He has a strong team at his disposal and there are high hopes.
So, which way will it swing? My vote: Champions Trophy glory will almost certainly guarantee him his job. No silverware, and once again the coach will carry the can.
Domingo has come a long way with this squad. Is it their time to finally come good in a world event?
Surely, once the Proteas get the monkey off their back and lose the chokers tag, there will be no stopping them. And will that be enough for Domingo to keep his job? Soon, time will tell!
Kass Naidoo co-hosts Cricket Tuesday on Radio 2000 alongside Andile Ncube from 18:00 to 19:00.
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