Lessons for Domingo to learn

Sport24 columnist Pat Symcox (File)
Sport24 columnist Pat Symcox (File)
The ICC World Twenty20 was always going to prove a tough assignment for the Proteas. Team South Africa didn’t exactly arrive in Bangladesh brim-full of confidence.

Furthermore, conditions were foreign and the selection panel played around with so many different combinations over the duration of the tournament, that few players had their roles clearly defined.

While the dust may have settled and the players have headed off into the distance, in the aftermath of the India defeat, a few media spats have played out which doesn’t augur well for Russell Domingo.

The Proteas coach lost his cool owing to post-tournament criticism he was subjected to by former players turned pundits. One in particular was former Australia and South Africa international Kepler Wessels.

Domingo needs to understand that commentators, TV pundits and scribes alike, constantly praise or criticise the national side after each and every performance. It’s nothing new and comes with the territory at the top echelon of professional sport.

It’s about being entitled to an opinion, and although your views may differ from mine, freedom of speech should always be encouraged.

The danger exists when a coach decides to take on the media publically as he runs the risk of alienating himself from the fourth estate.

The reason I use the word danger is because we all know that in the circle of the coaching life, there is only one guarantee: that one day you will need some friends in the media to help you when you are shown the door.

Furthermore, it’s highly improbable to always keep winning and thus, as a coach your strategy is there for all to see when the team fails. It’s the media’s duty to dissect elements of a defeat.

We were always hopeful that the Proteas could outperform our deep-down expectations. And, in a way, they actually did by reaching the semi-finals.

However, in the build-up to the event and during the tournament itself, much was said and written about how certain players could be used to far greater effect. One such debate was the batting position AB de Villiers should occupy and the use of other impact batters like David Miller and Albie Morkel, for example.

No one disputes that the three names mentioned above are as good as anyone in world cricket as far as changing the outcome of a match is concerned. Hence, said players will always prove a source of discussion, especially if the team loses.

For the coaching staff to fail to understand or accept this fact is ignorant in the extreme.

The real twist comes in when you are either the convenor of selectors or the coach whose team loses an important match, such as a World Cup fixture, and your impact players weren’t optimally maximised.

While Faf du Plessis and his charges would have left the field with their heads held high after a simply sublime innings from Virat Kohli, the question remains... Should they have opened the bowling with spin and deviated from what had proved successful for them up until that point?

Many lessons were there to be learned during this tournament and whether or not they are heeded; only time will tell. One thing is certain though, Domingo will now be scrutinised even more thoroughly by the media.

Symcox, a former South Africa international, is a self-proclaimed cricket fanatic, struggling golfer and addicted writer.

Sport24 encourages freedom of speech and the expression of diverse views. The views of columnists published on Sport24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Sport24.
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