TELFORD VICE, Cape Town
YOU’VE heard of Brexit. Now comes Prexit, which is the Proteas exiting a tournament in dramatic fashion. Actually, you’ve heard plenty of that, too.
Friday in Bridgetown was just the latest instance. SA needed to beat West Indies to reach Sunday’s triseries final against Australia, and when the home side derailed to 21/4 victory seemed certain.
But the Windies escaped to 285 and dismissed SA for 185 to win by 100 runs – only the 12th time in the 271 completed one-day internationals in which SA have chased that they have felt the pain of a three-figure hiding.
That ripped the paper off the cracks covered by SA’s rousing bowling performance to beat Australia in Guyana not quite three weeks ago and their flawless allround display to down the Windies in St Kitts on Wednesday. The cold fact is SA played five completed games and failed to win more than those two.
So the naked lightbulb has swung back into the face of Russell Domingo, who before the tournament heard calls for his head as often as Capetonians hear foreign accents on the Sea Point promenade.
Domingo has been SA’s head coach for almost three years. For two years before that he was Gary Kirsten’s assistant, a job he earned through success with the Warriors. He has 10 months left on his current contract but it would be no surprise if he did not see them out.
Indeed, the appeal for clemency AB de Villiers delivered after Friday’s game was as impassioned as it seemed futile.
“He’s played a big role in all of our careers in the last four or five years,” De Villiers said. “I’ve felt he’s done a fantastic job. It’s sad to see him under pressure.
“(The problem is) definitely not the coaching staff. The coaching staff, there’s no doubt in my mind they’re the best in the world.
“Unfortunately as players we let them down in this series. We had ample opportunity in a few games to knuckle down. We should have walked the first game we played (in Guyana on June 3, when West Indies won by four wickets). So it comes down to the players.
“The preparation was perfect. All the coaching staff did their jobs. So it’ll be pretty sad to …”
De Villiers seemed about to say “to see him go”. But he caught himself in time to pause and revise that comment to a repetition of, “ … it is sad to see Russell under pressure”.
SA have won 68 of the 128 games they have played since Domingo was appointed. That’s a success rate of 53.13%. They have lost 50, or 39.06%.
Kirsten’s record as SA’s coach is also in that ballpark: played 66, won 36, lost 22. He won 54.55% and lost exactly a third.
But SA have won only eight – and lost eight – of the 23 tests they have played with Domingo as coach. Under Kirsten they won 12 of 19 tests and lost just two.
Kirsten took SA to the No. 1 test ranking. They are now No. 6. Domingo is the first SA coach to win a World Cup knockout game, the quarter-final against Sri Lanka in Sydney last year, and he inherited a side weakened by Mark Boucher’s retirement and that would suffer the blows of Graeme Smith and Jacques Kallis calling it quits.
Another giant of the age saw unfairness in all that.
“Not enough of us put our hands up in this series,” De Villiers said. “I got in four out of five times and didn’t convert. Tonight I was dismissed by a bowler who was really bowling well. That happens. But the other four times, no excuse. I just gave my wicket away. It’s just not good enough.”
It isn’t. But it’s a good enough reason to blame the coach.