It was always going to be a tough season for the Proteas after the retirements of Jacques Kallis and Graeme Smith, but Russell Domingo is happy with the Test squad’s response.
The Proteas coach is satisfied with the way the squad has managed to fill the holes left by recent retirements. The new-look team, under the leadership of Hashim Amla for the first time, had a baptism of fire, but passed with flying colours.
The first assignment was a two-match series in Sri Lanka, which was followed by a one off Test in Zimbabwe. All three matches were played on slow pitches, not conducive to South Africa’s style of play, but the new captain found a way to remain unbeaten and regain the world No 1 ranking.
In just three Tests a lot of question marks over the composition of the side have been answered. When asked what he learned in the three matches, Domingo said he was especially pleased with the players that have had to take up a new role within the team.
‘Number one is how good a leader Hashim [Amla] is going to be for the Test side going forward,’ Domingo said. ‘It’s important that we try and fill the gaps that Graeme Smith and Jacques Kallis have left in our side; it’s still going to be tough to do that but we have made some progress in finding some options in our batting order that we think can work.
‘It was the first time that Faf [Du Plessis] batted at three in a Test match for us and I thought he came through quite well with 90 and 80 in two of the three Test matches,’ he explained. ‘Quinton de Kock slotted in behind the stumps and showed some good signs with the bat. There have been some good positive steps made considering the loss of two icon players.’
Domingo saved the most praise for the new captain, who has had a good start to his reign with away wins in challenging conditions.
‘I’ve been impressed with how well he has taken to it,’ Domingo said of Amla’s captaincy. ‘To come into a position after an iconic leader like Graeme Smith has been in charge can be daunting and intimidating. He has taken it really well; the players have responded well to him as well. He is always going to have that calm demeanour but the hunger and desire he has to get South Africa to the top of World cricket has been evident over the last few weeks and I’m pleased by the way he has gone about his business.’
The next assignment for the Test squad is a three-match series against the West Indies at home in December and January.
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