TELFORD VICE, Cape Town
CAN you hear that? No? Try again. Still can’t? Try listening for what’s not there …
Here’s a clue – it was the most insistent noise in South African cricket between June 24 and August 19 this year.
Now it’s gone.
June 24 was when West Indies dismissed South Africa for 184 in Bridgetown to shut AB de Villiers’ team out of the triseries final.
August 19 was the first day of South Africa’s test series against New Zealand.
And for the 57 days that connected those dates almost all you could hear, on any day of the week, was why Russell Domingo was a crap coach.
Because he never played first-class cricket, nevermind international cricket.
Because his players did not respect him.
Because some of his players were better coaches than he was.
Because the players, not the coach, were in control of the dressingroom and the nets and everything else that mattered.
Because he was the product of a system that rewarded mediocrity.
Because he was a lightweight the suits could push around.
Because he put all his trust in stats despite the conclusive evidence to the contrary that was obvious to all those blessed with cricket commonsense.
Because he had the balls to argue his case with many of those blessed with cricket commonsense.
Or should that be the temerity. How dare the man. Who did think he was.
But, for 24 days now, we have heard not a word of all that.
During the first test against the Kiwis the public debate over Domingo’s future treaded water, just like those who stepped onto Kingsmead’s mud patch of an outfield.
It needed a dominant display in the second test at Centurion to drown out Domingo’s detractors, and that’s exactly what South Africa delivered.
With pretty poetry Domingo turned 42 on what became the last day of that match, which his team won by 204 runs.
The plain truth of it is that performance shuts up critics. Unless they have the good manners to say they’re wrong.
Of course the critics have done no such thing in this instance – because they don’t have the required good manners, because they are fresh out of arguments, and because they are waiting.
They’re biding their time until September 30, when South Africa and Australia clash at Centurion in the first of five one-day internationals.
The Australians are, as they always seem to be, formidable. They are ranked No. 1 and they have won all but one of their last seven completed ODIs.
Coaches of the reputation and accomplishments of Bob Woolmer, Duncan Fletcher and Gary Kirsten would face a tough challenge to engineer victory against this lot.
But, if they failed to do so, no-one would suggest that they were poor coaches.
Because that would be stupid.
Because it would not be true.
Because they played international cricket.
Because people far and wide respected them as men of cricket.
Because they would deserve better.
Because they had guided teams to triumph before and would doubtlessly do so again.
Because they were not Domingo.