South African assistant coach says the team is more worried about itself than its opponents at this stage
Russel Domingo joined the South African team as assistant coach in June 2011, his appointment coinciding with that of Gary Kirsten as the head coach and Allan Donald as the bowling coach.
Domingo said on Wednesday afternoon, after a training session at the R Premadasa Stadium, that while South Africa respected Pakistan, its first Super Eights opponent, it was more focused on its own game.
“Obviously in Twenty20 cricket, things can change in a ball or an over, so we really want to make sure we start the Super Eights well,” said Domingo, referring to the fact this group also includes Australia and India, the ICC World Twenty20 2007 champion. “We don’t want to be playing catch-up cricket. In saying that, there are so many things that can affect the result in a Twenty20 game. We just want to focus on our skills and our processes and not worry too much about the result as such.”
Pakistan is first up for South Africa, looking for its first major title since the ICC Champions Trophy 1998, on Friday afternoon. “They are obviously a quality side,” said Domingo. “We have a lot of respect for them. They have got some big game-breakers and match-winners. We are looking forward to it. We will do our homework over the next couple of days. The guys have prepared really well and we are going into that particular encounter quite confident in our ability and our skill. They have got a good mix in bowling, some good spinners and some experience in their seamers in Umar Gul and Yasir Arafat. We know they are dangerous.
“But we don’t want to get too carried away with what they have got. We are a side that focuses on what we can do and what we can control. We are fully aware of their skills but we know that we have got the skills to counter them.”
Saeed Ajmal’s off-spin will obviously be a huge factor, Domingo agreed. “We will discuss him a little bit over the next couple of days,” said Domingo. “The guys have worked hard over their skills against spin not just over the last couple of days but over the last couple of weeks. Spin is going to be an important factor at this stage of the competition. We will have some plans but obviously we will reveal them only on Friday.”
Plans to counter Ajmal, Domingo said, would vary from player to player. “It will very much be individual plans. Some guys might sweep, some might use their feet, some might go deep in their crease,” said Domingo. “It’s very different to each player and that’s the beauty of our batting line-up. We have got a lot of variety and different sets of skills in our batting order. We have guys who can use their feet, guys who can sweep, guys who can reverse sweep, so we have got some really good options against the spinners.”
South Africa swatted Zimbabwe aside in its first league match and gunned down Sri Lanka in a seven-over, rain-hit encounter in game two, but Domingo laughed off suggestions that his team might not be match-ready. “We have been playing cricket for three months. If we are not match-ready now, we will never be match-ready,” said Domingo. “We just had a high intensity tour of England, played a warm-up game against New Zealand. We had a couple of shortened Twenty20 games in England and here against Sri Lanka. The intensity of Twenty20 cricket, whether it is 10 overs or 20 overs, is no less draining than any format of the game. We feel like we have had enough game practice, that’s for sure.”
South Africa played its first two matches in Hambantota and Domingo said, more than anything else, the team had to make adjustments physically. “Physically, it is going to be a lot tougher here because it’s a lot warmer,” said Domingo. “Strangely enough, everybody seems to think it will be warmer in Hambantota but definitely it has been warmer here in Colombo. The wicket in Hambantota had quite a bit of pace in it and had a lot of grass on it. Here, it looks a lot barer but the groundsman says there might be pace in it. We will have to see, there might be a slight adjustment in game depending on how the wicket is likely to play because that looks like the one obvious difference, the wicket here compared to the one in Hambantota.”