TELFORD VICE, Cape Town
HOW good a bowling coach is Allan Donald? We might be able to answer to that question when his former team, SA, meet his current employers, Australia, next season.
Officially, Donald’s involvement with the Aussies will end on September 9, the last day of their tour to Sri Lanka. Unofficially, his tenure could be extended to include a one-day series in SA later in September and the test series AB de Villiers’ men will play in Australia starting in November.
South Africans already know what it feels like to have their pace ace plot against them. The memory of him clad in black and white, Silver Fern and all, and sitting on a cooler box just beyond the boundary in Dhaka on March 25, 2011 as SA imploded in their World Cup quarter-final against New Zealand looms like a spectre.
But Australia are the only measuring stick who matter in SA cricket, and if Donald is in their dugout when the teams clash in the coming months a compelling sub-plot will unfold.
Not least because his SA successor, Charl Langeveldt, has earned his keep. Indeed, the batsmen should carry more of the can than the bowlers for most of the 20 losses SA have suffered in the 47 games they have played since Langeveldt came on board.
His emphasis has been on improving skills, emphasising variation and tightening discipline. Donald seems to focus on aggression.
“I think Australia have been more aggressive just in their nature, and I think sometimes we (SA) have succumbed to that aggression a little bit in terms of being intimidated,” Donald said in one of his first interviews in the other green and gold.
How well are the Aussies warming to Donald? Well enough, considering Mitchell Starc’s comments.
“I’ve been fortunate enough to work with ‘AD’ in the Indian Premier League with Bangalore for a couple of years, so I know him a bit better than some of the other bowlers,” Starc told reporters in Sri Lanka.
“He’s been great. He’s toured Sri Lanka maybe five or six times. So that’s more than our other bowlers – take out ‘Gaz’ from that group – have done.
“It’s great to get his thoughts on reverse swing and swinging the new ball, and maybe some of the ways the Sri Lankans have played in the past.”
Who might ‘Gaz’ be? Off-spinner Nathan Lyon. Why? Because he’s “not as good as Warne”.
That’s as succinct an encapsulation of the Australian approach to everything as can be found, as well as good reason to look forward to how SA fare against them – and, perchance, Donald – next season.