RUSSELL Domingo has come out swinging as hard in defence of South Africa’s T20 tactics as AB de Villiers does at the crease.
Stung by criticism from former players turned television pundits – notably Kepler Wessels, HD Ackerman, Mark Boucher and Daryll Cullinan – before and after SA’s six- wicket loss to India in the semifinals of the World T20 in Dhaka on Friday, Domingo took on his detractors yesterday.
“It is disappointing that guys who have been in this situation are throwing darts,” he said.
“It’s sad when that type of thing happens because they have also been there and they have also lost games and they have also made mistakes. Those opinions aren’t the ones that are important to me.”
The major unhappiness is De Villiers batting lower than No 3, which limits – theoretically – his opportunities to pull the trigger on bowlers. In his only innings at No 3 at the WT20, De Villiers scored an unbeaten 69 against England. His other scores, all made at No 4 or 5, were 24, five, 21 and 10.
“It’s not the position he bats in [that matters], it’s the situation of the game,” Domingo said. “If AB walks in in the first over, it’s not a good start for us. If he comes in later, that means we’ve had a good start. It’s almost as if people want our players to get out.
“Statistically, AB plays better when there’s been a good start. AB will be the first to admit that he is a better player when the game is set up for him. I would hate the whole team’s strategy to revolve around one player. People want AB to face 120 balls and Dale [Steyn] to bowl 120 balls, and that ain’t gonna happen.”
In 54 innings in the format for SA, De Villiers has batted at No 3 or 4 a total of 42 times.
He has an average of 43.5 and a strike rate of 169.48 from the nine times he has come in after the 10th over when he has batted at No 3 or 4. In the 33 innings in which he has batted at three or four and taken guard before the end of the 10th, his average is 19.55 and strike rate 110.74.
But, in his column on SuperSport’s website on Saturday, Wessels wrote: “The point that the brains trust refuse to accept is that impact players . . have to be put into positions consistently where they can influence the outcome of the match.
“At no point during the [WT20] did SA embrace this principle, with the exception of the England match, which was forced upon the team through the unavailability of skipper Faf du Plessis. Promoting AB de Villiers to [No 3] . . . worked, so one would have thought the powers that be saw the value of that. Yet they once again reverted to the outdated formula for the semifinal which was costly.”
Asked about Wessels’s views, Domingo said: “Maybe he is trying to get a job. Our one-day cricket has improved a lot. Maybe some people don’t see it, maybe they don’t want to see it, maybe they just have other issues.”
– Telford Vice