TELFORD VICE, Cape Town
DALE Steyn and Quinton de Kock are poles – or at least 22 yards – apart as cricketers, but for Russell Domingo they show the value of getting away from the heat of the kitchen that is the international arena.
Steyn roared in to bowl in SA’s test series in Bangladesh with a fervour he has not shown since before the World Cup.
De Kock scored 100 runs in six innings across all formats in Bangladesh and has been sent on SA A’s tour to India to eat, pray, love and perchance rediscover the player he was in December when he reeled off a hattrick of hundreds in a one-day series against India.
According to Domingo, Steyn’s fire was rekindled during the month off he enjoyed between the end of the Indian Premier League and the start of the Bangladesh series and not by going to Bangladesh needing just four wickets to join Shaun Pollock in SA’s 400 club.
“It was like a guy coming to make his debut – those are the benefits you get when you give someone a bit of a break,” Domingo said on SA’s return on Tuesday.
Steyn claimed those four wickets despite six of the 10 scheduled days of play being washed out, prompting Hashim Amla to quip, “Dale getting his 400th was the icing on a very small cake for us.”
There was neither icing nor cake for De Kock, who batted as if he would have struggled to blow out a single birthday candle.
“Time away from the pressures of international cricket can be beneficial, particularly for a young player like Quinton,” Domingo said.
“We’re hoping he can regain that confidence, work on one or two technical aspects and come back into the SA squad – when we’re not sure – in a good space and putting in performances we know he’s capable of.
“With a string of low scores comes self doubt and a lack of belief in your own performance and your preparation because it’s not working for you.
“Time away from the side will do him good, put things into perspective for him and allow him get back his desire and his hunger for the game.”
SA’s players can look forward to more downtime what with a schedule that has them playing eight tests, 13 ODIs and 10 T20s between next Friday and March 8.
“Where there are opportunities to rest we’re going to take them, particularly with fast bowlers, with eight test matches coming up.”
For Amla, the deluge that drowned the test series could have been used to “assess how (well) everybody swims, but you’ve got to deal with whatever cards you get”.
Was SA’s dramatic exit from the World Cup, where they crashed out to New Zealand in the throes of a selection controversy, still on their minds?
“The disappointment of the World Cup will stay with most South Africans until the next World Cup,” Amla said. “But I think the team has tried their best to move on.”