PORT Elizabeth’s Russell Domingo has been bombarded with calls from well-wishers following his appointment as the Proteas cricket coach.
“I’ve had hundreds of calls and text messages … it’s been non-stop since [Saturday],” the former Warriors coach said from his Bluewater Bay home yesterday.
“I’ve been humbled by the number of well-wishes I’ve received.”
Domingo, 38, will take over from Gary Kirsten as the South African cricket coach from August. He has been Kirsten’s assistant for the past two years.
His appointment was announced less than 24 hours after Kirsten opted out of renewing his contract for another two years.
Kirsten said: “My relationship with Russell has always been a close one. He is passionate and clinical and has done a lot of coaching.
“I have no doubt he is very capable of doing high-level coaching jobs.”
Shortly after his appointment was announced, Domingo flew home to watch the Southern Kings beat the Highlanders in a Super Rugby clash at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium.
The former Chapman High School pupil is enjoying a rare break from the rigours of international cricket before the Champions Trophy next month.
As pleased as he is with his appointment, he knows the hard work begins now.
Domingo said: “It’s not all love and fresh air – there is a lot of work to be done, and it’s only the start. It’s a challenging period in my career.
“It’s exciting and I’m privileged and humbled by it but there is a lot of hard work that lies ahead.”
Eastern Province Cricket president Graeme Sauls said Cricket SA’s board had no hesitation in appointing Domingo as Kirsten’s successor.
“It was a unanimous decision, which was great to see.
“Russell has gone through all the channels in coaching. He started at EP under-19s and went through to the SA u-19, EP Academy, EP Amateur, Warriors, South Africa A and SA Emerging. He has done the hard yards and it’s just reward for his effort.
“We at EP Cricket are extremely proud of what he has achieved and are confident he will do a great job with the national side,” Sauls said.
Domingo coached the Warriors for six seasons.
While he has his detractors – who say he has no experience playing cricket at the highest level, or even first class – those who have worked with him say what Domingo brings to the table is an incredible ability to analyse and read the game. His people skills are also highly rated.
Warriors captain Davy Jacobs said: “Russell knows the game more than most. But his big thing is he understands people and man-management is key. For me, man-management is the most important thing, and Russell oozes that.”
Piet Botha, who worked as Domingo’s assistant at the Warriors before he moved to the national set-up two years ago, believes his predecessor’s progression serves as great motivation for coaches throughout the country.
“The positive thing about it is that someone has come through the coaching system. I think that’s what a lot of coaches like to see. It’s encouraging for all those coaches coming through the levels.
“The other thing is certain people just do a better job than others because of their persona. Russell is one of those personalities who is just ideal for the job.
“He is positive and draws people towards him, and he’s got the gift of having an insight for the game, which I haven’t seen in many coaches,” Botha said.
Warriors chief executive Dave Emslie, who helped give Domingo a chance to coach at franchise level initially, said Domingo had what it took to succeed at the top level.
“He’s no pushover. He’s strong enough to make decisions. But he also has the ability to work with people. I’m certain he’ll do a great job,” Emslie said.
Gelvandale Cricket Club president Gary Dolley was also pleased for Domingo. “Obviously, we are very proud of what Russell has achieved, being a son of the Gelvandale Cricket Club.
“We hope he and our other players and administrators continue to be a shining example to our youngsters.”
Proteas captain Graeme Smith tweeted: “The last two years with Russell have been great and I’m looking forward to seeing how the Proteas grow under his guidance and leadership.”
The life of an international cricketer is a tough one and they spend more time out of the country than they do in it.
Domingo said: “I’m lucky I have a good support system. My mom is here, so she helps my wife, Genevieve, a lot.
“My wife’s mom is here as well, so that also helps. It is tough but we do have support structures.
“My taxman tells me I spent about 270 days out of the country last year. It was a tough period but I’ve always had a very supportive wife.”
Domingo will spend some time fishing before reporting for duty at the end of the month ahead of the Champions Trophy in England and Wales. “I’ve got two weeks left to do some fishing and then I’m away from home for a good period of time.
“We leave for Holland on May 25. I’m still the assistant for the next three or four months.
“I’m fully focused on that job and have to make sure I give Gary all the support he needs going into the Champions Trophy. This is a big, big event for us.”
And what of attempting to win what no other South African coach has managed to do before?
“The World Cup hasn’t even crossed my mind yet,” he said.
“I know everyone is wondering about the World Cup and we know how important that is.
“But, look, we play so much cricket before then and we know the public demands good performances week in and week out.
“There is no way I’m even looking at a World Cup at this stage. We want to try and develop a consistently good winning culture in one-day cricket. We’ve been a bit inconsistent in that format,” Domingo said.