Driving to work today, I saw this sign on the lamp-post. Damn, what a question… and there are so many answers.
Consider our previous nine Tests: we’ve lost five, drawn four and won none. I don’t remember us having such a bad run ever before. We’re not simply losing either – we’re being slammed. In India we lost by 108 runs, 124 runs and 337 runs. Poor pitches. OK, back home then…we lost by 241 runs in Durban and seven wickets in Johannesburg.
As the old saying goes, a fish rots from the head. Russell Domingo is not the right man for this job. He didn’t even play provincial cricket as he wasn’t good enough. You can’t have a man who hasn’t played the game, coaching our country’s best talent. The first thing we need to do is get rid of him if he doesn’t stand down after this series.
We have a perfect successor in Geoff Toyana.
Toyana has played provincial cricket, so he knows the game. This year he won the CSA Coach of the Year, and he’s coached the likes of Kagiso Rabada (CSA Newcomer of the Season) as well as Stephen Cook (CSA Cricketer of the Season), Temba Bavuma, Hardus Viljoen and Aaron Phangiso, as well as more experienced players like McKenzie and Alviro Petersen.
A year ago, when Hardus Viljoen wanted to move to New Zealand and play cricket, Toyana was the man to talk him into staying. And now Viljoen has a Test cap.
I’ve was lucky enough to interview Toyana a few years ago, and he was the friendliest man in the world with a great sense of humour. He’s perfect for the job.
Domingo OUT – Toyana IN.
Next, we need a proper captain. As it stands, we have an incompetent coach and a captain who seems to have lost all passion for playing for the Proteas. If AB de Villiers isn’t moaning about his work load, he seems to be threatening to retire from Test cricket. Take the gloves away from him, take the captaincy away from him and just let him bat. That will leave Amla and De Villiers free to focus on scoring runs.
Who should take up the captaincy then? An opening batsman, left handed, and always up for a scrap. It’s worked for us in the past (miss you, Graeme Smith), and we think Dean Elgar is a great fit for our next permanent captain. I watched Hashim Amla struggle to captain at the New Year’s Test, and after lunch I saw Elgar moving the field around. Whether he was asked to do so or not, I’m not sure, but Elgar looked extremely comfortable setting the field. He has a permanent position in the side, he seems like a rock hard cricketer who can go toe-to-toe with any other player in the world, and he appears relaxed at press conferences.
De Villiers OUT – Elgar IN
Lastly, I’d recommend a few changes in the side. Faf du Plessis HAS TO GO! Simple as that. He hasn’t played an aggressive, or positive, innings in such a long time. Whatever the situation, he seems adamant to block, block and block again. He puts pressure on the rest of the team. Easy solution: Get Rilee Rossouw in at five.
I’ve been begging for this for months. He’s 26, so he’s got many years ahead of him compared to Faf who is 31. Rossouw averages 44 in first class cricket and importantly, his strike rate is 64. He’s a naturally attacking batsman and won’t put his team under pressure. For the record, Faf’s Test match strike rate is 39. Sadly, Test match cricket has moved forward, and left Faf in the 90s. It’s time to move on.
The other change needs to happen at the top. The Stiaan van Zyl experiment has not worked. He’s not an opening batsman, he belongs in the middle order. So CSA has effectively ruined his career. Let’s just admit that this was a cock up and move on. Stephen Cook has been the form opener in the Sunfoil Series for a few years now. So put him in the team. He’s earned his place.
Cook has almost scored 11,500 career runs. He is very classy and I don’t mind about his age: if you’re good enough, you’re old enough! He is averaging over 40 and is churning out runs week in, week out. Easiest decision CSA will ever make.
So here’s our dream team:
Let’s get a new Protea look, a team that is young, exciting, aggressive and most importantly, good enough to to win.