Going into the tournament with confidence is one of the laws of success in the World Cup, according to South Africa coach Russell Domingo, and he has already mapped out his plans for a summer that could be the making of his tenure in charge of the Proteas.
“Confidence going into the World Cup is always vital. Playing well throughout the year leading up to the tournament is probably more important than anything else.
“If you’re losing a lot beforehand, then you have to make changes in personnel or strategy just before the tournament, which is never ideal. The players need to feel comfortable in the strategy you’re going to use,” Domingo said after his presentation to the country’s leading coaches at the CSA Level IV Coaching Conference at the High Performance Centre yesterday.
One of the strategies which Domingo believes will be highly applicable in the World Cup in Australia and New Zealand from next February is the use of bouncers, while he defended the Proteas’ scarce use of yorkers.
“How many bouncers you use depends on the opposition and the pitches, but it’s a very useful weapon. Someone like Kumar Sangakkara ducks just about every bouncer so those are dot-balls.
“The stats show that a wide yorker is very hittable if you just miss your length. Very few people bowl six yorkers an over at the death, even Lasith Malinga, who has the best yorker of anyone, doesn’t bowl it every time.
“Predictability is very dangerous at the end of the innings, you can’t just bowl yorkers, you have to mix up your deliveries. The short ball is very important in this regard because it causes doubt and fear in the minds of batsmen, and cause them to get into strange positions sometimes as well,” Domingo said.
Although Jacques Kallis has halved his cricketing commitments, Domingo said the great all-rounder was still an integral part of their plans for the World Cup. There is no doubt that, used in the top-order to set up the innings, Kallis can be a batting kingpin for South Africa, while he is also still good for a few overs as well.
But in order for the team’s planning to be complete by the time they begin their World Cup challenge against Zimbabwe in Hamilton on February 15, Kallis is going to have to play most of South Africa’s ODIs in the next nine months.
“We have 24 ODIs before the World Cup, but to ask Jacques to play in all of those is unrealistic. But he’ll definitely be needed to play in the vast majority of those because we have to develop a strategy for playing with Jacques Kallis. We have to incorporate him back into the team and it effects the balance – we could play seven batsmen instead of six batsmen and an all-rounder. It’s a different dynamic because we’ve developed a strategy for playing without Jacques Kallis in recent times,” Domingo said.
AB de Villiers was just an eight-year-old child when the World Cup was last held in Australasia in 1992, the wonder of South Africa’s return to the international fold turning to dismay when poor rain rules ended their dream run at the semi-final stage and started a seeming curse for the team in that tournament that they have yet to shake off.
De Villiers will almost certainly be the captain of South Africa’s World Cup squad this time around, and he is also the favourite to inherit Graeme Smith’s Test captaincy.
“The captaincy is not cut-and-dried and there are some really good options. It would be a tough ask for AB to be captain, keep wicket and be a key batsman, and the selectors will take that into cognisance. I have input with the selectors and then their recommendation goes to the board, who make the final decision,” Domingo said while trying to throw journalists off the scent.
But he possibly let slip his feelings on the matter when he said: “It’s going to be a big challenge for the new leader to step up and fill the massive void that Graeme has left. But the maturity of the Test side will enable him to do it and senior guys like Dale Steyn, Morne Morkel, JP Duminy, Faf du Plessis and Hashim Amla know that a new leader is coming in and will bring different ideas to the team.”
South Africa have been offenders before when it comes to going into World Cups without covering all their bases, but with the domestic competitions arranged to help their planning and a limited-overs tour to New Zealand and Australia in October/November, they should not want for preparation.
“I’ll be looking for consistency in selection and strategies, and hopefully we’ll have settled on our combination and the style we want to play. The last 10 ODIs before the World Cup, I’ll look to play the best XI as much as possible.
“We have a pretty good idea of the 15 we want, but it would be naïve to think all 15 of those will make the World Cup because of injuries, loss of form or a domestic player shooting the lights out and putting his name in the hat,” Domingo said.