Coach says team never had any doubt about Hashim Amla’s place at the top of the order
Soon after South Africa had won a thriller against Zealand, in which a dynamic spell of 4-0-17-4 from Dale Steyn had helped his team across the line, there was a suggestion that the fast bowler from Phalaborwa be called “the special one.”
Steyn was quick to dismiss the Jose Mourinho style monicker, and suggested that the title should be reserved for coaches, passing it on to Russell Domingo.
However, that monicker will currently be far from Domingo's mind. South Africa has had a slightly unsettled look in the games it has played so far in the ICC World Twenty20 2014, capped by a near-loss against The Netherlands.
“Our thinking during the batting innings hasn't been where it needs to be,” said Domingo. “There were some poor dismissals and some poor thinking which set us back big time against The Netherlands.”
Those setbacks did not result in South Africa being eliminated from the tournament, with The Netherlands finding itself in unfamiliar territory and South Africa’s players riding the pressure situation well. “The danger of playing sides like Holland is that you try and do things that you maybe shouldn't have or try and take on players who you wouldn't have taken on if you are playing so-called established sides,” said Domingo. “We can take a lot of positives out of the way we dealt with the pressure in these two tight games and we can fall back on those experiences when we get into tight games as the competition progresses.”
Domingo also defended the team against some of the criticism that had come its way, and attempted to explain the decisions made. “If we stick with the same line-up, people say we do the same things over and over; if we change it, people say we change it too much,” said Domingo. “Albie Morkel is a player who goes in with the intention to try and take it on from ball one and JP Duminy needs a bit of time to get started, which is why we sent Albie in. It looked like a bad decision because AB (de Villiers) got out at the wrong time but the strategy was for AB to try and hold it together for us and Albie to try and take it on with batting still to come. It didn't work out for us.”
What did work for South Africa, was the decision to persist with Hashim Amla at the top of the order. In Domingo’s mind, there was never any doubt about what Amla could bring to the table. “In our domestic T20s, Hashim had the second best strike-rate of all players in South Africa,” pointed out Domingo. “His strike-rate for me is not a major concern. He is a quality player. He is always going to find the gaps and the boundaries when it's his day. So we are pretty happy with how he hit the ball today.”
Domingo, however, pointed to the sometimes strange scrutiny his team was under. “We are a strange cricket nation,” said Domingo. “If we win two or three games comfortably, people are accused of peaking at the wrong time, and if we win two close games, people say we are playing badly.”