TELFORD VICE, Cape Town
RUMOURS of the imminent end of Russell Domingo’s tenure as South Africa’s coach have been greatly exaggerated.
Closer to the truth is that Cricket South Africa (CSA) and Domingo need to make sure their corporate governance ducks are in a row.
The fuss was caused by a CSA release on Saturday that ended with what was at best a naively and at worst a negligently cryptic sentence: “The board of directors also resolved to commence the recruitment process for the appointment of the Proteas head coach to take charge after the tour to the UK until after the 2019 edition of the World Cup.”
That sparked reporters into action – was Domingo going to lose his job?
Fuel was added to the fire when team management refused reporters’ requests to interview Domingo after the first one-day international at St George’s Park on Saturday, and at least one other request has since been turned down.
Even AB de Villiers was a victim of the confusion.
“It is a tough one for the team and I’m speaking on behalf of the guys,” De Villiers told a press conference after Saturday’s game.
“It is a bitter pill to swallow.
“It’s really difficult for us to take in and there will certainly be a few sad hours in the changing room now.”
All of which could have been avoided had CSA communicated properly in the first place.
Domingo has had his current contract extended three times, the last of which expires at the end of August.
In labour law terms, a reasonable expectation could have been created that Domingo would continue to be employed in the position indefinitely. So CSA need to nail down some hard and fast dates.
Insiders told TMG Digital that “it’s not a matter of whether the board are not satisfied or satisfied” with Domingo’s performance.
“It’s a matter of procedure that was put in place before the last extension.”
That extension was announced on October 26, when the memory of the five losses South Africa suffered in the eight tests they played against India and England in 2015-16 – and crashed out of the running for a place in the final of a triangular ODI tournament in the Caribbean in June – was still raw.
Domingo, invariably a lightning rod for criticism as South Africa’s first black coach and the first who had not played first-class cricket, was repeatedly held up as the villain of the piece.
The contract extension didn’t go down well despite South Africa having completed a 5-0 drubbing on Australia in a one-day series two weeks before it was made public.
South Africa’s busy schedule was part of the reason why Domingo’s deal was given fresh legs, what with series against Sri Lanka and New Zealand following in short order before the Champions Trophy and the tour to England.
South Africa could play as many as 35 matches between December 26 and August 8, so stability assumed even more importance than usual.
“The board didn’t think it was appropriate, at that time, to say they were not going to extend or renew his contract,” a source said.”
They added that Domingo knew in October that there would be no further extensions.
“I’m surprised and disappointed that so much has been read into this decision,” a senior administrator said.
“It was taken when we extended his current contract.
“It’s not good corporate governance to extend someone’s contract on a piecemeal basis.
“He wants certainty; everybody wants certainty.”
To get that certainty it seems Domingo will have to re-apply for his job.
That’s never a pleasant experience.
But the fact that he has guided South Africa through the dark days of 2015-16 and into the brightness of having won 14 of their 18 matches since August is the most compelling argument any coach could put on their CV.