TELFORD VICE, Cape Town
DON’T touch Russell Domingo on his players. Even those who have gone six and nine completed one-day and test innings without scoring 50 or been the only man in a squad not to crack the selection nod in a series.
Those players are JP Duminy and David Miller, both among the finest in the game. When they’re in form, that is.
Asked on Wednesday if he was concerned about their missing mojo ahead of the T20s SA will play against England at Newlands and the Wanderers on Friday and Sunday, Domingo came out swinging.
“(Duminy’s) not in bad form, he’s actually playing really well,” Domingo said. “The last T20 game he played, we chased 200 and he won the game for us and was the man-of-the-series.
“Unfortunately, if a player misses out once or twice, gets a bad decision, plays a few bad shots, people write them off.”
So why was Duminy dropped for the deciding ODI against England on Sunday, and that at his home ground of Newlands – the same fate that befell him in the New Year test?
“As much as people try and keep criticism and media speculation and constant scrutiny away from you, it can weigh you down sometimes,” Domingo said.
“We know he’s a quality player and we wanted to have a look at Rilee Rossouw. (Duminy) has played every one-day game for us for the last six or seven months, so it was good time for him to have a break.”
As for Miller, who sat out all five matches of the ODI series against England …
“We can only play six or seven batsmen. It’s difficult to leave out ‘Quinny’ (de Kock), Hashim (Amla), Faf (du Plessis), quite difficult to leave out AB (de Villiers). JP’s a hell of a player. Rilee’s come back into the side. Farhaan (Behardien) has done really well. If you look at his last year of one-day cricket he’s averaging nearly 50.
“There’s always going to be someone who’s unlucky. My son feels he should be playing under-13 As – he’s playing under-13 Bs.”
Behardien’s ODI average in the past 12 months is 44.90; close enough to 50 to back up Domingo’s point. But Duminy has featured in only 10 of the 16 ODIs SA have played from July 10, and that T20 he won for SA was the second-last he played – against India in Dharmsala in October, when he scored 68 not out.
Details. The bigger truth is that, if you need a man in your corner, that man is Domingo. Here’s why.
“(Coaches) are mature enough to take the blows. We’ve got to protect the players as best we can.
“When things are going great, it’s congrats to the players. When things are tough (the coaches are) going to have to front up.
“That’s the bottom line. We know that’s part of our job. Sometimes it becomes an irritation but you’ve got to deal with it.”
The newbie among the tracksuits is Neil McKenzie, who had his first training session as SA’s batting coach at Newlands on Wednesday.
“As a coach one of the most important ingredients is being able to work with people and get them to understand and listen to ideas you might have on a particular skill,” Domingo said.
“Some guys might have all the knowledge but often their way of getting it across might not be the best way. That’s the most important thing and I think he’ll be really good at that.”
Probably. But McKenzie will struggle to surpass Domingo as the players’ most dogged defender.