'From what I’m reading I’m assuming my time’s done,' says belaguered Proteas coach Russel Domingo
“This is definitely the departure lounge‚ this; jeez‚” Russell Domingo quipped as he stepped into a draughty stairwell at Old Trafford on Monday to talk about his future.
South Africa’s 3-1 series defeat wasn’t yet cold out on the field‚ and important questions about their poor performance hung in the air like the smell of the champagne sprayed from the many bottles England’s jubilant players had uncorked in their celebrations.
But all those questions could wait for another: did Domingo still have a job?
“I haven’t spoken to anybody‚” he said.
“All I know is what I’ve read in the media‚ so maybe you guys have got more insight than I do.”
Did it feel unfair to have to work with the uncertainty hanging over his head‚ which it has since January 28 — the day of a one-day international against Sri Lanka at St George’s Park‚ which Cricket South Africa somehow thought was an opportune time to announce they were shopping for a new coach?
“It’s been a long time but hopefully there’ll be a little bit of finality in the next couple of days‚” Domingo said.
“I’m not sure what’s happening‚ but by all media accounts from what I’m led to believe there seems to be some process taking place.”
His contract expired at the end of the England tour‚ which could mean his last payday will be at the end of the month.
Would he have enough in the bank to cover the debit orders beyond that?
“You never have enough! That’s the life of a coach — what happens happens.
“[I’ll] try and find employment‚ I suppose‚ once I’ve had a discussion with [the suits]. From what I’m reading I’m assuming my time’s done.”
Theories that Domingo was keen to coach South Africa A or the national under-19 side have surfaced. Was he interested?
“I’ve got a young family‚ my roots are in South Africa‚ my family’s in South Africa‚ I want to stay in South Africa.
“Whichever level I coach at doesn’t stress me too much. That’s my job‚ that’s what I love doing.
“So as long as I can play some part in South African cricket I’d be glad to stay.”
Domingo has been in charge since July 2013. South Africa have won 95 of the 172 matches they have played under him and lost 64.
That’s a success rate of 55.23%‚ which puts him up there with the team’s most successful coaches. Even those who have‚ unlike Domingo‚ played international cricket.
No other coach has taken South Africa past the first stage of World Cup knockout play‚ as Domingo did by winning the 2015 quarter-final against Sri Lanka‚ and he has won a Test series in Sri Lanka and Australia.
But his major failures — Test series defeats in India and to England‚ home and away — have been high profile.
His tenure has seen the retirements of some of the best players South Africa have yet produced‚ and serious injuries to others of that calibre.
“That’s just the nature of the job‚ you’ve got to focus on what you can control‚” Domingo said.
Among the things he can’t control is who will replace him. Ottis Gibson‚ currently England’s bowling coach‚ is the odds-on favourite but nothing official has emerged from either set of suits.
If Domingo goes his coaching team are likely to go with him. What price Lions coach Geoff Toyana‚ whose name has also been linked to the top job‚ being named Gibson’s assistant?
Or Warriors coach Malibongwe Maketa‚ whose relative inexperience as a franchise head coach would diffuse the fallout that would be generated by the seasoned Toyana being made a mere assistant?
None of which is Domingo’s problem. What’s the first thing he’s going to do when he gets home to Port Elizabeth on Friday from an England tour that started a dozen weeks ago?
“I can’t tell you‚ actually‚” he said.
Soon‚ he won’t have to. Probably.