South Africa v England, 4th Test, Centurion, 5th day January 26, 2016

SA close to appointing batting coach


Russell Domingo said South Africa hoped to have a new batting coach on board soon © Getty Images

When you're next in a book store, look out for They Think We Are Stupid. That is the title of a book Russell Domingo, South Africa's coach, is threatening to write, presumably to shed light on some of the decisions made in South African cricket that have been questioned in the aftermath of back-to-back series losses.

As expected when defeats are analysed, everything from selection to the make-up of the support staff will come under scrutiny and, with South Africa being shot out for their two lowest totals since readmission over the last two series, the absence of a batting coach has been glaring. But Domingo explained it was not for lack of trying.

"Everybody thinks we have not been looking for a batting coach but we've been trying for the last year," he said. "Every team's got it. England have got one, Australia have got one, India have got one. We've offered the position to quite a few people and we offered the position whilst things were going well not whilst we've been bowled out for 80 and 90."

In the near future, South Africa hope one of the people they have offered the job to will take it. "We've been looking for somebody and we've got somebody in mind. We are waiting for him to commit to us. We've had a few people who said they were interested but they wouldn't commit to it simply because traveling is not that fun when you are away from your family for a long time and when there is a lot of pressure and a lot of criticism you are faced with when things don't go well. It's probably easier to say it and write about it than to actually get down and do it."

Domingo did not reveal who the "somebody" was and was not asked whether former captain Graeme Smith could be the man, although that seems unlikely. Smith became the fourth batting consultant in Domingo's tenure, after Gary Kirsten, Mike Hussey and Lance Klusener, when he was roped in for a net session ahead of the Newlands Test. Hashim Amla, captain at the time, thought Smith had signed on for the full series but his commentary commitments prevented him from doing that.

So continued a drawn-out saga which started when Smith suggested there was unhappiness in the team camp in Durban, where the first Test was played, before being pulled into the tent. Once back out, following the Johannesburg Test, Smith said everybody should be questioned, including team management.

One South Africa player, Dean Elgar, moved quickly to defend the back room, who he said deserved a lot of praise. AB de Villiers, who was criticised in the media by selector and commentator Ashwell Prince, remembered how when some former players were active, they said they would "never become like that" and take shots at the team.

Against the waves of attack, the South Africa squad stood firm, which pleased Domingo even more than the consolation win in the final Test against England.

"The main thing I take out of it was the way side responded to a lot of noise that has come from the public and the media," he said. "When you have one or two bad series, everybody makes you sound like you are the worst players and the worst coaches in the world which is not necessarily the case.

"That's why when you do have one or two good series you are not necessarily the best side in the world and the best coaches in the world. You've got to keep a balance. Our players have maintained their composure really well through some tough times. To play the way they have played these last couple of days makes the coaching staff really proud because it has been a tough series."

The Centurion win may silence some of those sounds but even if it doesn't, Domingo has learned to shut most of it out. "When you're losing, there's always going to be a lot of noise so you've just got to believe what you are doing as a team is good enough to withstand that," he said. "Hopefully this performance will quieten that noise until something else comes up."

There may be another six months before that something else actually happens because that is the gap between Tests for South Africa. In that time, despite inactivity, South Africa hope to be able to find some of what they had before, which Domingo somewhat enviously pointed out England have now.

"England are very fortunate that they have what South Africa had a year or two ago - four frontline seamers and a spinner," Domingo said. "South Africa don't have someone like Ben Stokes who scores hundreds and takes five-wicket hauls. Jacques Kallis used to do that. Their bowling all-round strength is a massive factor. Bowlers win you games and that has been the difference as far as I'm concerned - they have sustained the pressure a lot better than we did throughout the series."

Questions over the lack of a South African allrounder since Kallis have also swirled. Perhaps Domingo's book will have some answers.

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Ash on January 27, 2016, 10:57 GMT

    SA is back on track. I guess the following test 11 should be good for all seaming wickets: 1)D, Elgar 2) S Cook 3) H. Amla 4) ABD 5) T. Bvuma 6) Q. De Kock 7) C. Morris 8) V. Philander 9) D. Styne 10) K. Rabada 11)M. Morkel. This gives 6 proper batsmen with 2 relatively good bowling allrounders in Morris and Philander (unless there is a raising good batting allrounder present in domestic cricket) with handy bat of Styne and overall 5 good bowlers, not to mention Morris' fielding.

  • greig on January 27, 2016, 8:54 GMT

    We might have won the last Test but Domingo is still a clown and way out of his depth.

  • Mahdy on January 27, 2016, 2:43 GMT

    Forget recycling Duminy and Faf , give others a chance. SA have players capable of stepping up.

  • Matthew on January 26, 2016, 20:50 GMT

    @CaptainHansie - quite agree. I actually think Domingo is out of his depth handling all these big personalities and there is no doubt that performances of some of the 'star' players have dropped since he became coach. The treatment of some of the younger players and those on the fringes have left a lot to be desired too.

  •   Abhijeet Kushe on January 26, 2016, 18:45 GMT

    This was a problem waiting to happen for South Africa as they have been far too dependent on Amla, Devilliers and Steyn for far too long.It was only a matter of time before they get figured out, get injured or get old

  • sean on January 26, 2016, 17:00 GMT

    Another 6 Months before playing again. Why? IT was 7 months previously. Then a dodgy trip to Bangladesh in Monsoon and v India on minefields. SA need to play more Test Cricket in Winter. So annoying they don't. How are these guys supposed to get better if they don't play Tests? Come on CSA, sort it out.

  • Marius on January 26, 2016, 16:59 GMT

    All fine and well, but Russell is both coach AND selector. So he has a LOT to answer for. Cook not opening from the beginning. Dropping de Kock and making AB keep. Not chosing 5 bowlers. Maybe if the selectors apologised to the nation I wouldn't feel so aggrieved. If you mess up you fess up. Even if you have to use euphemisms like "results have not been what we would have liked" it's OK because I will know what you mean.

  • Alex on January 26, 2016, 16:04 GMT

    SA won because england took them lightly and did n't have that much motivation. Top sides there is not much differentiate between them. All depends who has more motivation than other. England bowling lacked motivation more than their batting. SA team is still middle of bunch. Cook selection was master stroke that allowed amla to play serene game. How in the world ashwell prince become selector. He himself worst player.

  • Vaughan on January 26, 2016, 15:05 GMT

    I firmly believe that the dressing room is divided, and everyone is hiding this from the media, as they know the storm that will erupt should this news get out. Graeme Smith should know, he's been there, so where there's smoke, there's normally fire. A team doesn't just implode within the space of a year like that. AB is a disruptive influence in the team and seems to be someone that ''wants his way'' now that he's become so famous. Hashim's resignation as captain proves that. Who gives up their childhood dream just like that?? There are too many questions, and we will not hear the answers for a long long time!

  • Julian on January 26, 2016, 14:52 GMT

    A coach who hasnt hired a perm batting coach when he started , hires a bowling coach with no test experince and refuses to choose an opening batsmen .. so its taken us some losses and embarrasment for these clowns to realise whats right ... I say Graeme Smith for Head Coach and Hussey as batting coach ,

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