CAPE TOWN – Michael Doman’s quiet nature belied the fighting spirit within him, and even his son Jamie was on the end of it on a cricket field.
Journalist and former provincial cricketer Doman’s funeral on Saturday was attended by family, friends and colleagues at the Our Lady of the Visitation Catholic Church in Constantia.
Doman, 57, passed away in the early hours of last Monday, having battled diabetes.
He was a top-class batsman that represented the non-racial Western Province Cricket Board in the late 1970s and early 80s, as well as a news journalist for the Cape Herald, and later cricket writer and sports editor at the Cape Argus.
A man of strong principles who refused to go to the “other side” to play “normal cricket in an abnormal society”, Doman was also a reporter on the front-lines of the anti-apartheid Struggle, including the infamous Trojan Horse incident in Thornton Road, Athlone in 1985.
He eventually returned to his first love of cricket as a journalist, and his quiet but friendly demeanour endeared himself to colleagues at Independent Media.
Doman was regarded as a true professional in every respect, whether it was on a cricket field or newsroom.
And one of his twin sons, Jamie, recalled one such moment on Saturday. “My dad will always be remembered for his quiet confidence and utter humility, and his unassuming nature. And he sort of had this proclivity to be very objective in everything he said – which obviously, sometimes, was very annoying because you never knew where you stand!
“But that’s not to say sometimes… he was very assertive. I remember fondly when we had our father-son cricket game: there was nothing unassertive in his batting against me!
“I used to complain that this cricket bat has lost its sweet spot, and then in the father-son game, he used that same bat and would hit a quick cameo of 60.”
A good friend of many years, journalist and author Mogamad Allie, spoke about the pride that enveloped Athlone High when Doman was chosen for the WP Cricket Board men’s team as the youngest ever player at 17 years and 17 days.
It was “some achievement” considering the wealth of talent in that side, such as the Magiet brothers Saait and Rushdi, Lefty Adams, Braima Isaacs, Charlie van Schalkwyk and George van Oordt.
Allie also said that Doman was his first point of reference to assist in his epic project of recording the history of the WP Cricket Board from 1959-1991 in the book More Than A Game.
“I can safely say, had Michael lived and grown up in another country, or in the post-apartheid South Africa, he would surely have become a multi-code international sportsman,” Allie said.
“He also got an A for Latin in matric and was first in the country in English. This guy’s achievements knew no bounds.
“The handsome, dashing, blond bombshell (for his long, blond locks in his youth) – he was so well-loved. Some people would ask, were there things that Michael couldn’t do? Yes, there were a few things he couldn’t, and wouldn’t do, like raise his voice, sacrifice his principles, or be dishonest and unkind.”
Jamie said he would miss the long drives with his dad, with Luther Vandross’ ‘Dance with my father’ often playing in the car – “with the heater on way too high”!
“Watching every movie with him – even when my friends were watching Harold and Kumar, he would just always be somewhere in the room.
“And the thing about his presence is that it’s not like awkward: It’s there, it’s nurturing for me.
“He could just blend into any situation, like social gatherings where you don’t know many people, you could talk to him. And he didn’t mind if you just stopped talking and walked away to someone else!
“And when he came home really late from work, we would still send him to buy a snack, and he would just do it.
“My dad was a true romantic and really loved all the people in his life. And he would do anything for us, and we knew that.”
Doman is survived by his wife Lorelle Bell, and sons Luke, Liam and Jamie.