South Africa news

Domingo takes over as SA coach

Firdose Moonda

May 11, 2013

Comments: 14 | Text size: A | A

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 correspondent

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Posted by Marktc on (May 13, 2013, 5:32 GMT)

I was enjoying the article until the race topic came up. I agree with Russel, why see it as a race issue at all. He is simply the coach taking over from Gary. He is there on merit and I am sure he will continue steering the Proteas along a winning path. He has the backing of the palyers, and it seems the supporters and he has the knowledge ad experience..I wish him all the best.

Posted by SurlyCynic on (May 12, 2013, 9:58 GMT)

For those suggesting that ex-players don't make good coaches, look at Flower and Kirsten, who could become test coaches at a young age as they knew what it took to manage a bunch of experienced internationals. Then look at Hesson and Moores who struggled to assert their authority. I think Hesson and Moores would have benefited from a longer spell as coach of the national 'A' side or as assistant coach before taking over the test teams.

Anyway, at least Domingo has been involved as assistant coach and I hope he does a great job. He seems to be a popular choice which is a good start.

Posted by SurlyCynic on (May 12, 2013, 9:30 GMT)

I don't think an international career is essential to being an international coach, but I think it helps - otherwise you end up in the Mike Hesson / Moores scenario where players don't take you seriously in test cricket as you never played it.

If you haven't been an international player I think you just need to work your way up systematically, which is why I hoped he would have another year or two just in charge of the T20 team before taking over all the teams.

Anyway, I wish him all the best.

Posted by gibbs.175 on (May 12, 2013, 6:36 GMT)

IT is good choice after GARY....but i think KEPLER WESSELS should be.....any way good luck SA....

Posted by GRVJPR on (May 12, 2013, 6:20 GMT)

Will he able to win us a major ICC tournament or we continue to choke under pressure. South Africa should really need to prove that they are lions with teeth.

Posted by Shongololo on (May 12, 2013, 0:02 GMT)

Not sure Domingo's playing career has any relevance to his appointment. He has been appointed coach, not player! He has 16 years of mostly successful coaching under his belt, he has done the hard yards and deserves a go in the top job. I think the modern world's obsession with 'past players' for just about every role from coach to commentator does little to deliver best practice. A great player does not, necessarily, a great coach or commentator make. Think Shane Warne (terrible commentator), ditto Ian Botham. Indeed, many of the best coaches, just about every one of the truly respected commentators/writers were/are not former great cricketers. Well done, Russell, go for it!

Posted by Greatest_Game on (May 11, 2013, 19:19 GMT)

There was never any question that Domingo would not take over if Kirsten did not renew. Many considered that Domingo got a raw deal when Kirsten was appointed ahead of him! The continuity in succession will maintain the current team structure and ethos. It will not be long before an advisory/consulting/ type role is established for Kirsten, & he & Domingo continue their work.

Question. Which IPL franchise is going to fight hardest to hire Kirsten?

@ SurlyCynic. The greatest NBA coach & administrator was "Red" Auerbach. He played college ball, but never professionally - not a "top player.". Sir Alex Fergusen had an unremarkable football career, and certainly not one that prepared him for carer as the sport's most successful manager. Again, not a "top player." Domingo was smart enough to recognize early his best career path, & has been coaching for 16 years - much longer than Kirsten. He hired Kirsten. Kirsten hired him. They both seem more qualified than you to make this decision!

Posted by shillingsworth on (May 11, 2013, 12:17 GMT)

@SurlyCynic - Your statement that this is reminiscent of Moores' appointment is pretty shallow. Moores took over a failing team which had just been whitewashed 5-0 in Australia. Domingo inherits a team which is deservedly at the top of the world rankings. Weird that someone who has been coaching for 16 years 'doesn't have much coaching experience'.

Posted by 2nd_Slip on (May 11, 2013, 10:01 GMT)

Reasonable choice not surprizing either. Good luck mate.

Posted by   on (May 11, 2013, 9:59 GMT)

@ SurlyCynic: I don't agree with your comment. Russel have been he most successfull coach in South Afican first class cricket over the last 5 - 7 years. He wa the one who gave Gary Kirsten his first coaching job as a batting consultant for the Warriors in SA first class cricket. When Gary appointed him as his no. 2, it was meant as a geasture to thank Russel for expediting his coaching career, cause when Gary was appointed coach of India the Warriors insulting job was the only senior coaching role that Gary had fulfilled.

Thus, it could be concluded that Russel was Gary's mentor, not the other way around. I have known Russel for many years. He is extreamly dedicated and exceptionally hard working. He's key strength is he's attention to detail in planning. I wish him an our national team well for the years ahead. Nevin Nel - MBA

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