Russell Domingo launched a feisty defence of the South African teams tactics at the World T20 tournament, calling critics unfair. Photo by Dominic Barnardt/Gallo Images

Johannesburg: Russell Domingo launched a feisty defence of the South African team’s tactics at the World T20 tournament, calling critics “unfair” and describing as “disappointing” the stance adopted by former players.

The Proteas again came up short in an ICC event, being knocked out in the semi-final of the T20 competition last Friday by India in Dhaka. In many respects, reaching that stage was viewed as over-achieving, though Domingo said yesterday that the side had been quietly confident that they could challenge for the trophy.

However, the South African coach has also grown weary of the side’s many critics who had questioned the tactical approach adopted in Bangladesh, which was described in various circles as old-fashioned, especially as it pertained to the batting. From a bowling perspective, many believed the utilisation of JP Duminy to open the bowling in the semi-final was wrong.

Domingo was particularly taken aback by talk that AB de Villiers needed to feature more prominently with the bat like Virat Kohli did for India, saying the statistics employed by the team showed where De Villiers was most effective. “The AB conundrum is a pretty tiring one,” said Domingo. “AB’s batted number three for us a few times and had limited success, it’s not the position he bats, or whether Albie (Morkel) bats at seven, it’s the situation of the game.

“If AB walks to the wicket in the first over, that for me is not a great time to bat. When we get off to a good start and AB walks to the wicket, it’s a great time to bat. Statistically, and not just for South Africa, but for Bangalore (in the IPL) as well, AB de Villiers – and he would be the first to admit it – is most dangerous when the game is set up for him. He’s a different player to Virat Kohli in T20 and we need to employ the personnel we’ve got that best suits the side. I’d hate a whole team strategy to depend on one individual.”

Domingo said the Proteas side’s belief is that De Villiers is best suited to batting in the second half of a T20 innings, and certainly his best performance in Bangladesh – in the key group match with England – came after openers Hashim Amla and Quinton de Kock had provided a solid start, making 90 in 10.5 overs. De Villiers scored a thrilling 69 off 28 balls in that match, underscoring Domingo’s point.

“We feel there is a lot of unfair criticism about what’s happened,” remarked the coach.

As for Dale Steyn not opening the bowling in the semi-final after the Proteas had posted 172, Domingo said much of that was down to conditions in Dhaka, which suited spin, and the general approach of teams in the power play.

“Statistics show that batsmen are more careful in the first two overs and are less likely to attack then, and we thought it was a good idea to get in an over from JP. It’s just unfortunate he went for 14 runs. Earlier in the tournament he’d also opened the bowling and conceded just six, Dale opened against Sri Lanka and went for 17. If we’d known JP would concede 14, we wouldn’t have opened the bowling with him.

“With Dale, he can only bowl four overs, we (feel) we need Dale in the middle and we need Dale at the back-end. We have to bowl him two overs at the back-end, so we have to find a way of getting through the first six,” Domingo explained.

Domingo brushed off suggestions by former South African captain Kepler Wessels that the side needed some fresh ideas as far as the limited-overs side was concerned – “maybe he’s angling for a job,” Domingo quipped.

“The opinions that count for me are the opinions of the players and the group of people close to me. I suppose it’s just disappointing that the players who have been in those situations before, have made mistakes before and have come second in World Cups before, throw darts.

“I suppose that’s just the way it is in South African sport, where past players are looking to have a go at people who are the incumbents,” said Domingo. - Cape Times