Netherlands v SA, World T20, Group 1, Chittagong March 27, 2014

Domingo blames 'poor thinking' for South Africa's troubles


So this is how South Africa do not want their batting line-up to operate. After the New Zealand game, in which they seemed to settle into their strategy of starting slowly, setting themselves up and then speeding up, South Africa took several steps backward against Netherlands. They started in a hurry, shuffled things around, were strangled and almost went up in smoke as a result.

The showing left Russell Domingo steaming. "Our thinking during the innings hasn't been where it needs to be," he said. "There were some poor dismissals and some poor thinking which set us back big time today."

Although Faf du Plessis said net run-rate would not enter South Africa's minds ahead of winning the match, it was evident that it had. Hashim Amla smashed more runs off Michael Swart's second over than he has done in any over in T20 cricket in the past. Whether he was motivated by criticism over his strike rate, the loss of his opening partner early (which is when he has scored the bulk of his runs in domestic T20), the team cause or simply the opportunity to do so is anyone's guess but Amla did what was required of him when the situation demanded it.

"In our domestic T20s, Hashim had the second best strike rate of all players in South Africa," Domingo said. "His strike rate for me is not a major concern. He is a quality player. He is always going to find the gaps and the boundaries when it's his day. So we are pretty happy with how he hit the ball today."

What happened after that would not have made Domingo happy at all. Faf du Plessis and AB de Villiers played careless shots in an attempt to go big and put South Africa on a path of implosion. Neither have shown much responsibility with the bat in this format for a while. Du Plessis, who suffered patchy form stretching back to last year's Champions Trophy that saw him dropped from South Africa's ODI squad, has not crossed 30 in six innings; de Villiers hasn't breached that mark in nine innings.

Between them, du Plessis and de Villiers are supposed to be the spokes on which the South African batting wheels turn. Instead, they're getting the side stuck in the mud more often than not and leaving it to the players either side of them to make amends. They, and de Villiers in particular, may be playing out of character because of the continued shifting of their roles which hasn't given them enough time to establish themselves in a position.

Du Plessis wants to bat higher up but by doing so keeps de Villiers too low down for him to make the impact South Africa want. And if it isn't enough that the roles of these two yo-yo, South Africa can't even decide on a middle-order combination they will stick to, a problem that has been with them since Gary Kirsten introduced the floating batting line-up. JP Duminy, who is in form and was their top-scorer in the previous two matches, has had success at No.5 but South Africa opted to promote Albie Morkel ahead of him.

There is an argument to be made for giving Morkel time in the middle, mostly because he has not had much, but to do it in a major tournament illustrates South Africa have got the timing of their experimentation wrong. Morkel should have been picked for the umpteen matches they played in the lead-up to the tournament. To do it here, in a match they needed to win big, not only highlights how lightly they regarded their opposition but also how much homework they have not done.

Domingo justified the decision even though it did not pay off and accepted he would be criticised no matter which way he went. "If we stick with the same line-up, people say we do the same things over and over; if we change it, people say we change it too much," he said. "Albie Morkel is a player who goes in in with the intention to try and take it on from ball one and JP needs a bit of time to get started, which is why we sent Albie in. It looked like a bad decision because AB got out at the wrong time but the strategy was for AB to try and hold it together for us and Albie to try and take it on with batting still to come. It didn't work out for us."

Because it did not work South Africa could find themselves on the wrong end of a net run-rate calculation and may look back on the Netherlands match as the game where they got it wrong. Domingo already hinted as much. "The danger of playing sides like Holland," he said, "is that you try and do things that you maybe shouldn't have or try and take on players who you wouldn't have taken on if you are playing so-called established sides."

South Africa fell into a complacency trap of sorts but there was a positive they could take out of it. Beating Netherlands in such tense fashion made it the second game in succession in which pressure did not get the better of them. Like the approach to the batting-line up, Domingo accepted there were pros and cons to winning in such close circumstances but he could do nothing but hope the former outweigh the latter.

"We are a strange cricket nation. If we win two or three games comfortably, people are accused of peaking at the wrong time, and if we win two close games, people say we are playing badly," he said. "We can take a lot of positives out of the way we dealt with the pressure in these two tight games and we can fall back on those experiences when we get into tight games as the competition progresses." If, some will argue, their batting line-up allows them to get that far.

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • G on March 29, 2014, 8:41 GMT

    Tsotsobe, Behardien, Phangiso - shouldn't be there in 15. Albie's bowling is pathetic. Miller, from the looks of it, doesn't know what his role is. QdK and AB throwing their wickets away too easily. M Morkel, inspite of his speed and height advantage, is still not able to sort his length and line out for T20. If not for Steyn, Tahir and JP's brilliance SA might well be 0-3 down. It is hard enough winning T20 with 11 of your best players against top sides, especially in the sub-continent but to hope to do it with so many undeserving/ under performing players is next to impossible. SA might still win this but that wont be because they are best side in the competition. IMO, Faf has been good with his captaincy. poor thinking?? I thought the coaches and analysts are supposed to do the major part of that. get Jennings.

  • Paul on March 28, 2014, 23:41 GMT

    @ MrGarreth...isn't it about time Miller showed what he's supposedly capable of, because so far he has looked very ordinary. And as for the Afridi comparison, you conveniently omit to mention the four overs of pretty decent spin Afridi brings...whereas Miller is a batsman only so has to be judged solely on his performance with bat in hand. I do hope he comes good, just haven't seen anything to give me great confidence.

  • David on March 28, 2014, 23:25 GMT

    Batstats contd ...

    66% of de Kock's runs are boundaries. At SR 117 it means dots, few singles, & no strike rotation. That WILL slow Amla down, breaking his rhythm. QdK swings & misses, stranding Hash, who slows down to gain control. His 56% in boundaries & higher SR are more balanced.

    JP's 46% from boundsries, but good SR, mean running & rotating strike, not swinging. Faf, same SR, 54% in boundaries, hits out more, & gets out quicker. AB just swings - SR from 21 runs @ 87.5 to 30 @ 230.76. Always out caught fielder or bowled. 2 caught behind & no lbw in 20 inngs. He's not establishing & building inngs, in at 1, 3, 4, 5 or 6!

    Miller's 131 SR & 44% boundaries means 1s & 2s. He's been in & out early as the 9th over, & is usually in by the 15th Against SL he was in at 16, scored a 4, then ran 14. He's not being a finisher!

    Except JP, they are all OVERCOMPENSATING: its not WHERE they bat, but HOW they bat that screams lack of confidence, anxiety, & pressure. That is a COACHING failure.

  • David on March 28, 2014, 23:23 GMT

    Forget the opinions about SA's batting, lets talk batstats: the batsmens' stats since 2012. They have meaning, if well examined.

    BEST: Duminy's ave of 48 is huge, but his 29% not-out (n/o) makes Faf's ave of 33 @ 21% n/o pretty comparable. Amlas ave 27 @ 11% n/o is, realistically, close too: what ties the 3 as the "best in batting value" is ALL have a SR of 124. Hi scores: JP 86, Faf 85, Hash (& QdK) 48.

    NOT BAD: Millers ave 22 @ n/o 17%, & SR 131 balances with De Kocks higher ave 30 @ 27% n/o, but low SR 117.8. NOTE: QdK SLOWER THAN AMLA! Interestingly, QdK scores the most boundaries - 66% of score, with Amla's 56% 2nd. Miller's lowest of all, 41%, & a hi score of 36, suggest 'nurdler' rather than 'big hitter!'

    OH NO: AB's ave 18 @ 10% n/o, is just bad. Worse, he has the LOWEST SR - 116.96! 48% in boundaries is below ave, & a hi score of 39, for AB is pathetic!

    POOR: Albie, hi score 18, ave 18 @ 42% n/o. Big SR, no runs...might get lucky. Behardien ave 22.8 @ 46% n/o


  • Jay on March 28, 2014, 21:29 GMT

    Mr Domingo, for the love of God, please sort out this batting order. I don't remember the last time Miller and Morkel played a good innings lower in the order. However, I do remember two innings from Miller where he rescued the team and played well, meaning when given proper time, he can flourish. Albie is hopeless, giving those dollies with the ball and struggling as always with the bat. Either use Miller up or let him go. And use Albie at one down. He either fires or doesn't and at least you know that he has failed and can recover rather than see him waste deliveries at the end and then get out. pathetic so far from SA batting lineup.

  • Casper on March 28, 2014, 20:32 GMT

    S A vs Eng and NZ vs SL will determine semi final places nrr will determine first and second places the winners of these games go to the semis

  • David on March 28, 2014, 15:49 GMT

    @ Muneeb_Dawood comments that "AB's shot selection ... has been poor all tournament. It's difficult to single him out given his amazing performances over the last 2 years."

    AB's amazing test & ODI batting over the past 2 years led to his "best batsman in the world" reputation." But, this hides a BIG GLARING FACT: in T20s he has been rubbish!

    Jan 2012, in 20 inngs he scored 324, 2 N/O, ave 18 at SR 116.96. (Without the 2 N/Os, 18 inngs, 284 runs, ave 15.77.) That's decidedly less than amazing. That's awful!

    In comparison, Amla - accused of dragging the team down by slowing the strike rate - since 2012, as opener & batting anchor, in 19 innings made 461 runs, 2 N/O, ave 27.11 at SR 123.92! Seven LESS balls per innings, & 10 MORE runs than AB.

    And, REALLY underated is Duminy. Same period, 17 inngs, 577 runs, 5 N/O, ave 48.08 at SR 124.62.

    FACT: "over the last 2 years," the "amazing" Duminy was SA's best, Hash very good, & AB pathetic! Don't believe ALL the AB hype - stats don't lie!

  • Altaf on March 28, 2014, 14:49 GMT

    Poor bowling management was the main cause. By which logic Tahir was not called till 7th over (60 overs) when top 9 out of 10 bowlers in T20I are spinners and conditions has helped spinners so far and every team opens bowl with spinners. And they average score to defend. Under such circumstances, bowler calls their best bowlers first to defend not a big total. Even Steyn was given ball after Albie, Henrik, and Tsotsobe and that cost them. Luckily middle, lower order of Netherland threw away wickets and a wrong lbw decision saved the match for them. I am from India but SA is might first favorite but this time I wished they lose the game.

  • David on March 28, 2014, 14:16 GMT

    Let's be straight. A coach builds a team. With selectors, picks the BEST, defines strengths, builds strategies, & with the captain implements & directs them. He's in command -no fitness, form or injury worries. He wages the wars, & the Captains lead the armies into battle. BUT, the commander is still there!!!

    Domingo blames the team for "poor thinking?" HIS JOB is to build positive, directed, focused thinking. He's responsible for the stupid decision to send in Albie. Why was Albie picked if he needs time? He is always out within in an over or 2 anyway. Tahir gets no time, yet faced half the balls, made twice the runs, at 3 times the SR! Albie's bowling is worthless too.

    Miller needs time? Really? He had time: in at over 13, out in over 18, had half the strike & made 17 at SR 94.

    Why Albie & Behardien? SA has a dozen better. Tsotsobe is a liability, bat, bowl or field, yet Parnell & Hendricks carry drinks.

    Domingo: YOU are failing! Do your job! Don't blame the players - LEAD THEM!

  • Dummy4 on March 28, 2014, 13:37 GMT

    SA team selection is the mail problem. Faf will do better to go down at 6. AB at 3 and JP at 4 needs to be fixed. Number 5 can be floating- between Miller and Albie.. Then things can change. But it's going to hurt soon- the performance against the Dutch.- once run rate comes into play which it will.

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