South Africa tour of UAE 2013-14 October 20, 2013

Donald leaves SA team on UAE tour


South Africa's bowlers will have to find their rhythm without bowling coach Allan Donald, who has returned home from the tour of the UAE.

Donald, who was appointed bowling coach in June 2011, left the camp on an "extended leave of absence" due to personal reasons, and team manager Mohammad Moosajee said they are "not sure when he will return." Vincent Barnes, the former bowling coach who is now in charge of Cricket South Africa's high-performance programme and is also a national selector, will take over.

Barnes worked with the national team for a lengthy period under Mickey Arthur and was Corrie van Zyl's assistant before Gary Kirsten took over. He was credited with playing a big role in the development of the current attack, having overseen Dale Steyn, Morne Morkel and Vernon Philander's formative years in international cricket.

His approach is slightly different to Donald's, whose emphasis is on aggression, but head coach Russell Domingo said there would be no changes to South Africa's strategy. "Vincent is just standing in to support the bowlers. He will continue on the work Allan has been doing," he said

That may mean the ineffective short-ball tactic will still be used, especially as Domingo explained it is ingrained in the country's style of play: "South African cricket has been played a certain way. We just need to implement our plans better."

Domingo may simply be saying that to throw Pakistan off track because South Africa's strategy was obviously adjusted during Pakistan's second innings when the visitors pitched it up and claimed three quick wickets. Graeme Smith called them "bittersweet" scalps, which showed South Africa what they could have done had they been on the mark in the first innings.

Domingo said the whole squad shared that sentiment. "There was a sense, leaving the field after having lost the match, that if we just had 120 or 130 runs more, we could have had a real sniff," he said. "We possibly sowed some seeds of doubt and showed what we are capable of with the new ball."

With the spotlight on South Africa's bowling, it's easy to forget that their batsmen were the real culprits in Abu Dhabi. Domingo, for one, has not put that to the back of his mind. "If you look at stats here, the first innings sets the game up and we didn't have a good enough score," he said. "It's ultimately the batters that let us down on day one."

South Africa were 245 for 8 overnight, with 118 of those runs belonging to Hashim Amla and there is still a chance he will miss the second Test. Amla is still in Durban, awaiting the birth of his second child. As of Sunday afternoon, there was no news from Amla's side although South Africa remain hopeful he will be able to join them by Tuesday. "I hope Hashim's wife gives birth right now," Domingo said. "He is a great player to have around, not just as a player but also as a personality but he needs to be with his wife right now."

With Amla's responsibilities elsewhere, South Africa have to prepare for a match as though they will go into it without him. Dean Elgar is likely to slot into his place, adding inexperience to the challenges South Africa will face. For Domingo, that will complete a tough introduction to international coaching. He lost his first ODI series in charge and needs the team to win in Dubai to avoid the same happening to his Test career.

He admitted it has been difficult, but accepted this as the fate of someone in his profession. "It's never ideal to start your Test coaching career with a loss but that's what's happened. It's easy to win, win, win and feel good about it but these are the challenges you go through as a coach," Domingo said.

"It's a big challenge for me to get things going again and regain confidence within the team. But I've got no doubt we can and will do that. We've had tough times in the past. I remember the first day at the Oval against England and we really came back. Or the Test against Australia in Adelaide where we hung in there. This side has lot of character, a lot of talent and a lot of class."

The last time South Africa were without Donald as their bowling coach was in the third Test against New Zealand in Wellington in 2012, when Donald returned home in order to get a break before the IPL, where he was with the Pune Warriors. South Africa drew that Test with Morne Morkel the only bowler to pick up wickets on the final day.

Gary Kirsten, who was the coach at the time, dismissed all suggestions that Donald's departure had impacted the attack. Domingo will hope Kirsten was right and, if he wasn't, that Barnes can fill the gap for what is a must-win game for South Africa.

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dummy4 on October 21, 2013, 21:25 GMT

    I hope this is not the start of the dismantling of the S.A team...Kallis is winding down now,Steyn is injured,a new coach filling the boots of the best coach in cricket,Donald taking an extended leave of absence,the Lorgat issue,the politicians with renewed quotas,etc..Of course not all of these factors were responsible for the test defeat but there seemed to be more than a hint of being under prepared.I would hesitate pressing the panic button since the Proteas have bounced back before and are a quality outfit,stronger than Pakistan,

  • stuart on October 21, 2013, 18:09 GMT

    Get McDermott instead.It appears that he is a genius because he has told Aus bowlers to bowl swing at the stumps. What a genius. Donald should have stayed with England because he is practically an adopted Brummie after his career with Warks

  • I on October 21, 2013, 13:30 GMT

    I'd be really interested to see how two truly 'neutral' sides would would fare in the UAE, like Australia v South Africa, or West Indies v England. It would be a good way of seeing how much teams are being humbled by Pakistan, or how much they are struggling to cope with the conditions. I suspect it might have to do with the former more than the latter right now

  • Syed on October 21, 2013, 10:22 GMT

    Just want to comment on the comments Posted by F(October 21, 2013, 6:55 GMT) above that 2 test series is not enough for judging the ability of SA is true but its unfortunate that probably due to logistical issues or some other reasons the series is limited to only 2 tests, whereas this series ideally be of at least 3 tests to give fair opportunity to each team to proof themselves. I guessed Indian team is really unlucky who lost the opportunity of playing 4 tests against SA, though it may cause financial implications to SA Cricket Board but definitely cause more damage to Indian players and their cricket in terms of lack of quality exposure .

  • Asanka on October 21, 2013, 8:35 GMT

    @Andre Schutte

    Oh man!! How many other countries play two test series against each other? It's Saffers doing this forever. See espncricinfo statsguru...You will find Saffers did play 2 test against IND, BD, PAK, SL, NZL, ZIM and even against AUS once in nov 2011 in South Africa. This truth was exposed because of BCCI fight. Better you guys should ask your board why less Test even after being Test no.1. If I see statsguru I see saffars playing too much less cricket. The administrators has to answer to their local fans. Forget about it. Just see how BD playing against NZL in 2nd test. BD scoring @4.17 Now BD can take on Test no.1 What a mess this is? The whole scene backfired on saffa cricketers. i hold saffa administrators here same like ours.

  • Muhammad Abdul on October 21, 2013, 6:57 GMT

    If Pakistanis consistent in their performance, they will win the 2nd test but million dollar question is IF they consistent???

  • Dummy4 on October 21, 2013, 6:55 GMT

    Amazing how some guys think that when you win one test against SA you have a great team and SA is not all that good. Remember that SA's last test was in February. We are not number one in the world for no reason. We have not lost a series home or away for the last two years. Teams are getting clever now. They know we struggle in the first test so they only want to play two test series against us. They might win the first and draw the second so they win the series. Just look how scared India is of more than two tests. How many other countries play two test series against each other. A five test series is almost a certainty that SA would win.

  • Orang on October 21, 2013, 5:40 GMT

    I don't think the Saffers have any chance, their batters are all at sea except Amla and deVilliers, their bowling is one-dimensional without good spin. On the other hand, Pakistan's attack is the best in the world when it comes to balance and talent, one paceman extracting bounce and speed, another exploiting reverse swing, 2 front-line spinners, no other team can match this. As long as the batsmen provide 300-350, the bowlers will take care of it.

  • Syed on October 21, 2013, 5:29 GMT

    No doubt the SA is the best side of test format,but also don't forget when last time England came to play against Pak in UAE, they were also v strong with great batsman and bowlers but the way Pak defeated them was amazing and surprised everyone. In my opinion, credit should be given to Pak team that even with current problems surrounded Pakistan nation and cricket and playing in alien conditions, still they are performing reasonably good. Regarding the second test match, If Pak batsman would be able to put a total of 450 by batting first, it would be really interesting to see how SA will perform to level the series, no doubt SA is very balanced,talented and strong side and has every ability to bounce back, good luck to both teams, hope to have a great series for cricket lovers.

  • Ali on October 21, 2013, 5:20 GMT

    As if pundits from Pakistan & SA weren't enuf,that self-styled experts from India, Sri Lanka and yes even BD, are enlightening us with their comments -most funny being 'as I have previously said .. ' as if someone is keeping a vigil what these experts are saying .. Guys grow up and start watching cricket and enjoy it for its worth rather than engaging in stupid mudslinging .

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