He says some may be sceptical, but he’ll prove them wrong.
Russell Domingo knows he won’t be able to satisfy everyone, but he’s going to try.
The new Proteas coach is armed with lessons learnt by Peter de Villiers during his infamous tenure at the helm of the Springboks.
“I read his book and I understand a helluva lot of things he said in it, because those are the challenges you face as a cricket coach in South Africa and particularly a non-white cricket coach,” he said this week, four days after he landed the country’s top cricket job.
“There are always going to be people who are sceptical of the reason for your appointment and your credentials. It’s something you have to deal with and make sure those detractors don’t negatively influence you,” he said.
“I just need to make sure I give everything to the national side.”
A staunch Manchester United football fan, Domingo (38) hails from Gelvandale, Port Elizabeth. Unlike his hero, Sir Alex Ferguson, he is known for his easy and relaxed demeanour.
But this belies a stubborn streak he used to good effect during his tenure as coach of
the Warriors, the franchise consisting of Border, Eastern Province and South Western Districts players.
Having to unify cricketing enemies into a top side requires strength of spirit and stomach.
But it’s been an experience that has stood him in good stead for his new job as Gary Kirsten’s successor, which begins on August 1.
“People don’t understand the difficulties of managing two big regional cricketing headquarters like East London and Port Elizabeth, which are 300km apart. It’s not like Benoni and Pretoria, which are 20 minutes apart, or Cape Town and Paarl, just 40 minutes apart,” he said.
“There were massive challenges with that relationship, and massive challenges to become a unified franchise. When the franchise was based in East London, the people in Port Elizabeth did not identify with it, and when it moved to Port Elizabeth, it was vice versa.”
Local cricket fans no doubt want to know whether the national side will have a chance to win the Cricket World Cup and the T20 World Cup with Domingo at the helm.
He says he’s no choker and his domestic experience proves it.
The Eastern Cape trophy cabinet was bare before the 2009/10 season when he took the Warriors to two domestic victories.
“There was a stage where we got to six finals and lost them all before we won our first final. We had won a lot of semifinals leading up to those games so I can’t be called a choker,” he said.
“When I look back on that period, there are things I could have done differently – but not in the finals, in the games leading up to them. As a coach, you make a lot of mistakes, but the key is to learn from them and not to repeat them.”
To relax, Domingo needs even more adrenaline.
His other passion is deep-sea fishing, a sport taught to him by his father, who died 11 years ago.
The only son, and youngest of three children, Domingo was the one his father chose to fish with.
Domingo’s biggest catch, a 35kg yellowfin tuna, challenged his calm, patient approach to life.
“It took about 20 minutes to land and I pulled off the feat about two or three years ago. You have to focus flat out to catch a fish that size. Fishing and coaching definitely do not go together,” he joked.
Domingo, who is married to Genevieve and has two sons, Liam (8) and Kyle (6), is thankful modern cricket tours are not like those of two decades ago, when teams were away from home for months at a time.
His two boys are ardent cricketers themselves, and attend top cricket school Grey Junior in Port Elizabeth.
Kirsten made sure his squad members spent as much free time as they could with their families and Domingo wants to continue this trend.
“Cricket is a job and a livelihood. It’s a passion of mine that I love, but there are more important things in my life than cricket, and my family is one of them,” he said.
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