Domingo faces scrutiny after World T20 failure
Russell Domingo's job as South Africa's coach is safe for now but will come under the microscope during a CSA review in the next few months. Chief executive Haroon Lorgat said that the annual performance appraisal will be more intricate than usual because, "with every passing ICC event that we come back from below expectation, the reviews should get tougher" but cautioned against rushing to conclusions over Domingo's future, especially as he is contracted until April 2017.
Domingo took over from Gary Kirsten in July 2013 and has endured his toughest period yet. South Africa lost back-to-back Test series against India and England and were booted out of the World T20 with a game to play to take the sheen off their limited-overs progress. It was also the first full season since the retirement of Graeme Smith and, given Smith's decade-long presence around the squad, a major transition period for South Africa.
"It goes without saying that we will need to do some sort of review. We will do it objectively, we will do it smartly; not knee-jerk. It's not emotional stuff. We will do it properly," Lorgat said at the team's arrival.
"To pre-empt that [Domingo may under pressure] is premature. He's got a contract. I don't think I would want to speculate before getting down to the details. There is no tournament in the offing, our next fixtures are in the middle of this year so there's no need for a rush into this. Let us settle down and take it with great consideration. We are talking of futures, we are talking about the team and we want to provide the environment as best we can."
The combination of a decline in results and the struggle to move on from senior players have not made things easy for Domingo but, when asked if he wants to continue, Domingo was adamant that he does. "Absolutely. It's a massive honour and a massive privilege. Everyone wants to do it and it's a big challenge at the moment," he said. "We've obviously not achieved what we've set out to achieve and we have set some goals we want to achieve. It's a big challenge for me."
Domingo is also convinced he has the backing of the squad and the right mix of support staff to continue in the role. "I know the players support me, I have got a very good relationship with the players. There are always going to be coaches who lose games at World Cups. The management we have put together is as good as any in the world. I am pretty confident it's the right management team to take the team forward."
Of particular concern was the lack of international experience among South Africa's backroom staff, which is headed by Domingo and assistant Adrian Birrell. Neither of them played at the highest level but South Africa have bulked up on several former players to add insight. Charl Langeveldt took over from Allan Donald as the bowling coach, Claude Henderson is the spin bowling coach and Neil McKenzie succeeded Smith, Kirsten and Mike Hussey as batting consultant.
Langeveldt's involvement has also been questioned, after South Africa's attack were unusually ill-disciplined. In their four matches at the World T20, they conceded 36 runs in wides which Faf du Plessis identified as the key reason they bowed out of the tournament early. "The basics - I feel that's where we possibly bailed out of the World Cup. The fact that we bowled too many extras," he said.
Despite that, Domingo's defended Langeveldt's impact and blamed the lapses on pressure. "If anybody asks you who is one of South Africa's best ever one-day bowlers you are going to say Charl Langeveldt. He has got the experience as a player and he has up skilled our bowlers remarkably. You can see the improvement in their skills."
"We got it wrong in one or two games at the World Cup but generally our back-up bowling has improved over the last year that he has been in charge. It's very difficult to point fingers. It's not something I should be doing. We've got to front up and take responsibility. It wasn't good enough. That comes with pressure. Our disciplines have generally been pretty good. It's one of those that's difficult to explain."
Overall, Domingo also found it "difficult to explain" why South Africa did not play the "big moments" well enough or why they could not come with what du Plesiss termed the "complete game" in their first three matches. "It's a tough one to point out why we are batting well and then not bowling well and then bowling well and not batting well. We are meticulous in our planning. We are efficient in our strategising. Why we haven't crossed the line in a major event we still need to figure out."
And until they do, South Africa's team manager Mohammed Moosajee conceded that, "questions will always be asked." Perhaps the review will hold some answers.
Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent