TELFORD VICE, Sydney
RUSSELL Domingo never faced world class fast bowling, but he showed on Monday that he would have been up to the task – verbally, anyway.
With his team preparing to take on Sri Lanka at the Sydney Cricket Ground on Wednesday in the World Cup quarter-finals, SA’s coach was peppered with bouncers on everything from choking to Quinton de Kock’s poor performances, Dale Steyn’s indifferent form, SA’s patchy display in the group stage, and his own lack of playing experience.
When the c-word was first uttered, Domingo was quick to quip, “It’s taken four minutes, taken a long time …”
And he had more to say on the subject: “There’s no doubt – in the past we have let opportunities slip by and hopefully we would have learnt from the lessons previous sides have given us at an event like this. We want to try and make sure that doesn’t happen to us.”
De Kock arrived at the tournament as the most feared young batsman in the game. But he has scraped together 53 runs in six innings.
Told that the 22-year-old “seems mentally shot”, Domingo bristled: “I am not a sports psychologist but I don’t know how a player can be perceived to be mentally shot. That’s a little bit nasty.
“If Quinton gets a sniff he can hurt the opposition. AB de Villiers could get a first baller, Quinton de Kock could get 150. That’s just the nature of the game. You’ve just got to go with your gut feel.”
Steyn is widely regarded as the finest fast bowler of his generation, but 18 bowlers have taken more scalps than the nine he has claimed at the tournament.
“I’ve got a feeling there’s a big performance from Dale just around the corner,” Domingo said. “He’s a champion bowler and he’s led our attack for the past seven or eight years all over the world, and it’s a matter of time before he puts in a match-winning performance for us.”
SA won four group matches but lost the only two in which they were under pressure – against India and Pakistan. Did that worry Domingo?
“You could probably ask Sri Lanka the same question,” he said. “They beat England and they lost to Australia. They also lost to New Zealand. They’re in a pretty similar situation.”
But it was when Domingo’s lack of playing credentials were highlighted – he did not play first-class cricket, much less at international level – that he swung hardest for the fences.
“Whether I have played a hundred tests or not, it’s not going to make a massive difference to my coaching when we play the quarter-final,” he said. “No player is going to batting and thinking, ‘My coach has played a hundred tests! Jeez, I’m going to smoke this (ball) out the ground now!’ It doesn’t work like that.”
If SA play as good a game on Wednesday as Domingo talked on Monday, they will be in the semi-finals.