TELFORD VICE in Leicester
AT a press conference in London on Monday, not for the first time in recent months, Russell Domingo will be asked about his future as South Africa’s coach. Perhaps, for what would be the first time, he will answer unequivocally.
Domingo has avoided saying whether he has applied, or even whether he would apply, to keep the job he has had since July 2013.
On June 13 – three days before applications for the position closed – Domingo said he had “not yet” applied.
He had had “no thoughts yet” on what he might do after his contract expires when South Africa’s tour of England ends in August.
It’s a puzzling approach from someone who was earned respect for his straight talk, a lapse that has no doubt helped fuel the bushfire of conflicting reports on whether his hat is in the ring.
The latest version is that Domingo has indeed applied, but the theory is already doing the rounds that he has put his hand up less in hope of staying on than in quelling the negative publicity that has been allowed to thrive because of vagueness on the issue.
Perhaps he has applied and even been interviewed. But perhaps that has happened only for appearance sake and, mentally and emotionally, Domingo is clearing out his desk.
Cricket South Africa’s (CSA) board, who started all this in January with the last paragraph of a release that read, “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”, seem intent on putting a new man in charge.
Lest we forget, a test series against England starts at Lord’s on Thursday. It’s coming ready or not and regardless of whether Faf du Plessis will be back from becoming a father.
South Africa, then, need all the stability they can find, not least because England could also be vulnerable under a brand new captain — Joe Root — who leads a squad that looks to have been selected with solidity rather than the spectacular in mind.
But South Africa are discovering that stability is proving more difficult to find in England than a chunk of biltong and a pot of rooibos tea.
Both are almost common on the hipster cafe circuit here. Not so an uneventful day in the coaching story.
Every new report on the saga adds to an already lengthy list of names who are apparently keen on succeeding Domingo.
Among the latest, supposedly, is Paddy Upton, South Africa’s team director under Gary Kirsten — who is part of a panel appointed by CSA to recommend a suitable candidate to the board at its meeting on July 21.
Upton’s relationship with Kirsten would seem to give him the edge.
Problem is, he doesn’t want the job.
“I haven’t thought about it too much, but no,” Upton told Times Media in February.
“I don’t believe that is the way, going forward, that you open up a post and ask people to apply for a position of national coach.
“It’s just bizarre. If you want somebody to coach your national team you go and find out who is the best coach out there, and you go and say, ‘Will you please coach our national team?’.”
Domingo’s supporters would agree.
And they won’t see why CSA should go looking for “the best coach out there” when they believe they already have him on board.