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May 11, 2013
Russell Domingo has been appointed South Africa's new coach on a two-year deal. Domingo, who is currently assistant coach, will take over from Kirsten in August with his first assignment being the limited-overs series in Sri Lanka.
Domingo has been second-in-command since Kirsten was named coach in June 2011 and was put in charge of South Africa's Twenty20 squad last December. Prior to that, he had six seasons at the helm of the Warriors franchise, with whom he won two trophies and nurtured a string of national players including Wayne Parnell, Lonwabo Tsotsobe, Robin Peterson and Ashwell Prince.
Kirsten earmarked Domingo as his successor two years ago and rubber-stamped him upon his resignation yesterday when he said Domingo was ready for "high-level coaching." And it was Kirsten who informed Domingo he may be in line to take over. "Gary called me about 10 days ago and told me he was not going to extend his contract for another two years and that he is confident in my ability to take over," Domingo told ESPNcricinfo.
Domingo had time to mull over whether he would accept the job while CSA's board considered its options. When Kirsten opted not to exercise his renew option on Friday, acting CEO Nassei Appiah told the media CSA would appoint a committee to oversee the "due process," of appointing a new coach. None of that was required.
The board decided on Friday they would offer Domingo the job in the interests of continuity. "They gave me a call around lunch-time and asked me if I wanted the job and I accepted," he said. "I made a few calls to all the players, whether in South Africa, England or India, and let them know the decision and get their thoughts on it. All of them were confident in me, which was great to hear. This is a very big day in my life. It was to be highlight in anybody's coaching career to be given the honour and responsibility of being in charge of your national side."
It's been a whirlwind few days for Domingo, who thought Kirsten would stay on until the 2015 World Cup but now finds himself the man that will take South Africa to that tournament. His yet-to-be signed contract will terminate in August 2015 but none of the specific terms have been discussed.
Domingo expects to meet with CSA's board over the next week to negotiate. Chris Nenzani, the president, said "all options," would be discussed which means Domingo could, like Kirsten, ask for specific periods of leave to be with his family, although that is unlikely.
While Domingo is not expected to emulate Kirsten in that regard, he will employ a similar style of coaching which will focus on transferring responsibility to the players and managing them, rather than instructing them. "I need to try and do a lot of things Gary has done but also to bring my own flavour to it," Domingo said, "I'm still very much in the planning stage as to how I want to take this team forward. I've got a lot of thinking to do over the next few weeks. I need to canvas a lot of opinion and pull out some ideas from various people and add my own ideas to that."
One of the distinct differences between Kirsten and Domingo is that the latter has no playing experience, having discovered at a young age he would not cut it as a first-class cricketer. That has never hampered Domingo before, though, and he does not expect it to become an issue even as he takes on one of the most high-profile jobs in world cricket.
"I've been coaching for 16 years now, since I was 22 years old," Domingo said. "Playing and coaching are two totally different scenarios. I've developed a good rapport with players, and I've gone through all the stages a coach needs to go through - rightfully so because I haven't got the playing credentials."
While Domingo appears ready for the challenge, and has the backing of all the most important people, he will still have Kirsten to call on if needed. "He's a massive guy to replace, but I don't think Gary is entirely lost to South African cricket. I'd be an absolute fool not use Gary in some capacity as much as I possibly can. Gary and I have a really good working relationship," he said. Domingo gave Kirsten his first coaching job when he asked him to consult for the Warriors and the pair have been close ever since.
Domingo will also have free reign to choose other assistants but will likely to keep the same core of support staff. "The guys that are there at the moment have done an outstanding job. We have a good relationship and we work really well together, and I don't see why that should change at all," he said.
That means Allan Donald will probably remain bowling coach but Domingo will probably add an assistant from the domestic set-up. Lions' coach Geoff Toyana and Cobras' coach Paul Adams are two that could come into contention after they both enjoyed successful maiden seasons with their franchises. Paddy Upton, who was elevated to performance manager under Kirsten, may also be retained.
Domingo makes history as the first person of colour to become head coach, 22 years after readmission. Like many before him, he hopes he does not get judged in black and white alone. "I'm hoping the public sees me as a cricket coach, not a cricket coach of colour. I will endeavour to give my best for the country in every aspect," he said.
Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondentFeeds: Firdose Moonda
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