Coach comes clean on Lopsy

Russell Domingo (File)
Russell Domingo (File)
Cape Town - New Proteas coach Russell Domingo has admitted that bowler Lonwabo Tsotsobe was NOT on the original 15-man list for the recent tour of Sri Lanka due to fitness concerns.

According to the Cricinfo website, Domingo revealed the left-armer would have stayed at home had he (Domingo) not been convinced otherwise.

"I had massive concerns about his form, fitness and possibly his work ethic," Domingo said.

"After canvassing some opinion and chatting to him, we decided to take him with (us) and work on his fitness in the first two or three weeks to try and get him to a position where he could perform to his maximum."

Domingo denied there was any political influence involved in the decision for Tsotsobe to travel, but admitted the administrators are aware of the need to transform the national team.

"There was nothing like that, in terms of politics, but we are fully aware of the need to have black African players in our side and there is a lack of them banging on the door."

Tsotsobe has been the only black African player in the South African squad in recent years, with left-arm spinner Aaron Phangiso now giving him company.

Back in SA following their 4-1 ODI series loss and 2-1 Twenty20 truimph, for Domingo, the challenge between now and South Africa's tour in the UAE to play Pakistan in October, is to ensure Tsotsobe continues to make progress, and extends that to other areas such as his fielding.

"He made big improvements and we need to try and make sure he maintains that momentum."

Tsotsobe will join up with the South Africa 'A' squad, who are currently involved in a tri-series with Australia 'A' and India 'A' in Pretoria. He will work with Vincent Barnes, the former national bowling coach and current high performance head, and may even feature in some of the matches.

He will also be involved with his new franchise, the Lions, who have qualified for September's Champions League. Tsotsobe did not play for the Lions during last season's domestic 20-over competition, but signed for them during the off-season from the Dolphins.

Russell Domingo's full statement on Lonwabo Tsotsobe:

"I would like to state categorically and very honestly that Tsotsobe wasn't included in the fifteen to go to Sri Lanka. I had massive concerns about his fitness, his form and possibly his work ethic at that stage. Tsotsobe was very comfortable staying behind, working at the high performance centre, and getting himself back into condition because I firmly believe Tsotsobe is a massive asset in our one-day side.

He is one of the best bowlers in the world. We need a fit, firing Lonwabo Tsotsobe. It might not be a coincidence that when some of his form has dipped a little bit, the team's bowling as a whole dipped a little bit because he is such an important bowler for us.

After canvassing some opinions and chatting to him, we decided to take him with [us] and work on his fitness in the first two or three weeks to try and get him to a position where he could perform to his maximum. He worked really hard in those first two or three weeks and I was very pleased and encouraged with what I saw. And that hard work was proved in his first performance in Pallekele, where he probably won the game for us.

We've still got some way to go. I am a big fan of his. He offers a lot to the side in terms of his skills with the new ball, and his skills when he bowls cutters. Maybe it was a good thing that he wasn't included to make him realise he also needs to pull up his socks to a certain degree. And we also need to give him as much opportunity to develop for us, because he is a gun bowler in this format."
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