TELFORD VICE, Cape Town
RUSSELL Domingo has a sobering message for those outside SA’s test squad looking in: try harder.
“Consistency is the most important thing,” Domingo said on Tuesday. “A 100 now and then and no scores for seven or eight games is not what’s required to play international cricket. You really need to bang the door down.
“Averages of 25, 27, 32 are not going to guarantee you any better performances than what we’ve got from our current national players.
“We are very confident that the group we’ve got are the best players in the country. There’s no doubt about it.
“The media and the public will always think that the players who are not playing are better than the players who are playing. That’s just the way it is.
“But it’s not a closed shop. We are always looking at outside options. There are a few names that have been mentioned that need to keep putting in good performances.”
Three hours before Domingo spoke at Kingsmead, where his team will begin the test series against England on Saturday, SA A crashed to the visitors by an innings at the Oval in Pietermaritzburg.
A team featuring Quinton de Kock, Reeza Hendricks, Rilee Rossouw, Stephen Cook, Khaya Zondo, Dane Vilas, Marchant de Lange and Chris Morris were dismissed for 136 and 187 and conceded 414/6 at more than four runs to the over.
That bulletproofed Domingo’s point, even though SA will go into the series in the lingering shadow of having been thrashed 3-0 in India.
“Both sides didn’t bat well throughout the series and we’ve learnt a lot of lessons but we’ve got to move forward,” Domingo said.
How might SA do that?
“(We will) try to simplify our strategy and our game plan as much as we can. This is another opportunity to establish a style of play. We’ve got to make sure we do the basics well. That’s going to be the most important thing. We can’t be too funky, we can’t be too clever, we can’t be too innovative.”
Hashim Amla will be in the glare of a particularly bright spotlight. The insecure Indians tilted the conditions too far in their favour – on Monday the International Cricket Council issued Jamtha stadium in Nagpur with a warning for the atrocious pitch prepared there for the third test, which India won to clinch the series – but some of the SA captain’s decisions raised more questions than they answered.
On top of that, Amla, who has averaged more than 50 in half of his 32 series – and more than 100 in four of them – scored only 118 runs in seven innings in India: an average of 16.85.
There is also concern at the other end of the order, what with 15 of SA’s 21 stands for the last three wickets in India snuffed out for fewer than 10 runs. Five of those partnerships didn’t register a run.
Domingo’s solution is to co-opt Lance Klusener, now the Dolphins coach, for the duration of the Kingsmead test.
“We used to have Klusener batting at eight, (Shaun) Pollock at nine and Nicky Boje at 10,” Domingo said. “So our tail is a little bit exposed.
“His particular role will be to work with the lower order batsmen” to give them “a sense of purpose and a sense of direction”.
Once Klusener has done that, he should have a word with the top seven – 18 of SA’s 42 stands for the first six wickets in India didn’t get out of single figures.