Jacob Zuma may have a good story to tell – and who wouldn’t with a posh pad in the countryside that has a pool, amphitheatre, snazzy accommodation for the chickens and lots of room for the cows to wander around – but for the South African cricket side, it’s a case of theirs being, well, the same story to tell.
Another ICC tournament has come and gone and still the South African cricket team wait to taste victory. It’s been 16 years since the first and only win in an ICC tournament, and since then it’s been a case of misfortune, meltdowns and poor play which has seen a variety of coaches and captains trot out what sound like the same old reasons/excuses for the side’s failure.
Monday was the turn of Russell Domingo and Faf du Plessis. The former made a spirited, occasionally even aggressive, defence of tactics employed at the World T20 in Bangladesh that have variously been described as old-fashioned, timid and inflexible.
I found myself agreeing on many occasions with those critics. South Africa didn’t attack the PowerPlay well enough in Bangladesh – Quinton de Kock didn’t play with the freedom seen from him at domestic T20 level and in the one knock where he got a start (against England) he actually looked like he was trying to play the anchor role for Hashim Amla who had started quickly, hitting boundaries off Jade Dernbach and Moeen Ali.
In the T20 format, that should never be De Kock’s role.
South Africa had their plans – Du Plessis mentioned, 45/2 after the first six PowerPlay overs was their target, and accelerating in the last five overs would get them where they wanted to be, around 170 or 180 mark. AB de Villiers is not a No3 because it’s not about where he bats but when.
Disagree with Domingo all you like, but you have to respect the defence he put up for those tactics. I disagree that he should, as many have put it this week, “accept that criticism is part of the job”, it is , but those critics must also accept that the coach will defend his tactics and in Domingo’s case he did so firmly, supported by statistics which informed those decisions.
So good on Russell Domingo. But here’s hoping, that while defensive of his decisions, he also accepts there may be room to be more flexible. Looking at the stats isn’t the only avenue available for answers. Having a feel for the match and moment is just as important – do that and hopefully next time he, and the South African team, will have a different story to tell.