TELFORD VICE, Cape Town
RUSSELL Domingo remains SA’s coach, for now. That’s the short answer to the hail of harsh questions aimed at him in the wake of his team’s poor performance in the triseries in the Caribbean.
SA won only two of their five completed matches and failed to reach the final in Barbados on Sunday, when Australia beat West Indies by 58 runs.
The clue that Domingo would not be fired was the absence from a press conference at OR Tambo International on Wednesday of Cricket SA (CSA) chief executive Haroon Lorgat, who is with his fellow suits at the International Cricket Council annual conference in Edinburgh.
But would Domingo resign?
“I’ve got to sit down with my management team and the board members and the CEO and the guys who make those decisions and plan the way forward,” Domingo told reporters.
“I’ve got 10 months left on my contract and the last six months haven’t gone according to plan. I am not a guy who wants to give up or quit so I need to discuss what their thoughts are. I’ve got a few days at home now to just mull over things and see where things are going.
“I feel that the management team we’ve got in place have ticked a lot of boxes and provided the players with as much support as we can.
“We’re still very motivated as a management team to do well. We feel we can take the team forward. That decision doesn’t always lie with us but that’s the way it is.”
Coaches don’t win or lose matches. Players do. Did Domingo feel let down?
“I’m not a coach who is going to sit here and blame the players for lack of performance,” he said. “Coaches have to front up and take the brunt of it when performances are not there.
“I don’t feel let down by players; I feel let down by performances. The results haven’t been as good as what we’ve wanted. I feel the players gave it as much as they possibly could.”
So what went wrong? In a word, scheduling.
“You think about our seriously long tour to India (which started in September), our long tour against England and then straight into T20 World Cup (in India),” Domingo said.
“Some players stayed behind and played the Indian Premier League (IPL) and flew straight to Caribbean. Some players arrived two days before our first game in Guyana. Now they’re staying for another four weeks in the Caribbean (to play in the Caribbean Premier League), then home for two weeks, then a series against New Zealand, then go and play a mini-IPL, then straight into a tour against Australia.
“Those are challenges that the coaching staff and the players are sitting with at the moment and when you are playing that amount of cricket for that period of time, it’s difficult to maintain the standards consistently.
“The desire and the hunger levels when you are playing day in and day out will wane at some stage. There’s no doubt about that. You can’t give 100% to 10 different teams for 10 months. Something’s got to give.”
If cricket isn’t careful, that something could be playing for national teams.
“The big challenge for me is making sure that international cricket is still the main priority for our players,” Domingo said. “There are lot of tournaments, a lot of money to be made, a lot of opportunities for players to get out there and market themselves.
“We need to make sure that we focus really hard on our No. 1 priority and that is representing our country. Sometimes, if you have done it for a long time, you can take it for granted maybe.
“There is a lot happening outside international cricket. Making sure guys are fresh and hungry to perform for their country is of utmost importance for me.”
Clearly, the problem is much bigger than any individual, Domingo included.