Russell Domingo to replace Gary Kirsten as South Africa coach

Image courtesy of: Zimbio

Domingo is the first coloured coach of South Africa since they were readmitted 22 years ago

South Africa assistant coach Russell Domingo is poised and ready to replace Gary Kirsten as head coach of the national team after Kirsten decided not to renew his contract with Cricket South Africa (CSA) due to family reasons.

Domingo will take over from Kirsten in August this year and his first assignment will be South Africa’s limited overs tour of Sri Lanka.

Domingo, who has been South Africa’s assistant coach ever since Kirsten was appointed as head coach in 2011, was also named as the coach of the Twenty20 side in December last year.

Prior to his assistant coach position, Domingo was in charge of the Warriors franchise in South Africa’s domestic league for six seasons, two of which he led them to glory.

Since Kirsten announced that Domingo was ready to take on the challenges of “high-level coaching”, the assistant coach had been raring for the opportunity to become the head coach of the world’s number one Test nation.

“Gary called me about 10 days ago and told me he was not going to extend his contract for another two years and that he is confident in my ability to take over,” Domingo told ESPNcricinfo.

CSA took some time to consider other candidates, but decided to go with Domingo since he had been around the international scene for a long time.

“They gave me a call around lunch-time and asked me if I wanted the job and I accepted,” he said. “I made a few calls to all the players, whether in South Africa, England or India, and let them know the decision and get their thoughts on it. All of them were confident in me, which was great to hear. This is a very big day in my life. It was to be highlight in anybody’s coaching career to be given the honour and responsibility of being in charge of your national side.”

However, Domingo’s celebrations will have to be put on hold until he signs a new contract with CSA, which will expire in August 2015.

Domingo is set to adopt Kirsten’s coaching methods, whereby he lets the players have full responsibility and manage them instead of instructing them what to do.

“I need to try and do a lot of things Gary has done but also to bring my own flavour to it,” Domingo said. “I’m still very much in the planning stage as to how I want to take this team forward. I’ve got a lot of thinking to do over the next few weeks. I need to canvas a lot of opinion and pull out some ideas from various people and add my own ideas to that.”

The only major difference between Kirsten and Domingo is the fact that the latter has never played international or domestic cricket, but the assistant coach believes that this will not be a problem.

“I’ve been coaching for 16 years now, since I was 22 years old,” Domingo said. “Playing and coaching are two totally different scenarios. I’ve developed a good rapport with players, and I’ve gone through all the stages a coach needs to go through – rightfully so because I haven’t got the playing credentials.”

With Domingo ready to take on the challenge of coaching South Africa, he can feel a little safer knowing that he can always turn to Kirsten and ask for advice if he runs into any difficulties.

“He’s a massive guy to replace, but I don’t think Gary is entirely lost to South African cricket,” Domingo said. “I’d be an absolute fool not use Gary in some capacity as much as I possibly can. Gary and I have a really good working relationship.”

With Kirsten out of the picture now, Domingo will be free to choose his new assistant coach, but is expected to retain all the other coaching and support staff.

“The guys that are there at the moment have done an outstanding job,” Domingo said. “We have a good relationship and we work really well together, and I don’t see why that should change at all.”

Domingo is likely to choose an assistant coach from South Africa’s domestic league and two names spring to mind right off the ball, and they are Lions’ coach Geoff Toyana and Cobras’ coach Paul Adams, both of whom have enjoyed a lot of success with their respective franchises.

Domingo has also made history as the first coloured coach since South Africa were readmitted back to international cricket 22 years ago.

Like the small number of black players that have represented the Proteas in the past, Domingo hopes the people of South Africa will not judge him by the colour of his skin.

“I’m hoping the public sees me as a cricket coach, not a cricket coach of colour,” he said. “I will endeavour to give my best for the country in every aspect.”

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