Russell Domingo has found his cricket qualities celebrated as coach of the Bangladesh Tigers, just as Ashwell Prince did when he joined Lancashire as their star batsman. Now the duo will get to showcase these skills as a duo internationally, writes Mark Keohane.
Domingo’s Bangladesh recently hammered Australia 4-1 in an international T20 series. It wasn’t the first time Domingo had been at the helm of a routing of Australia. Several years ago, when he was the coach of the Proteas, the Australians were humiliated 5-0 in an ODI series in South Africa.
What Domingo will find different is that he is finally being observed, some would say judged, as a cricket coach. When in South Africa, he couldn’t escape the bigots, the racial prejudice and the second-guessing from those who believe white is right and anything not up to the standards of this Aryan whiteness is inferior and undeserving of any place in South African sport.
When Domingo’s Proteas whipped the Australians, Domingo had to reapply for his job; a job AfriForum’s manager of sport Ronald Peters declared Domingo was ill-equipped to do because of a view that Domingo did not have a celebrated international playing career.
Peters’s conviction in what he was saying defied all common sense, but this fool was insistent that Domingo was a political appointment and that his success as Warriors coach in South Africa’s domestic leagues had nothing to do with the coach and everything to do with the players.
The Warriors, under Domingo, won two domestic trophies and qualified for the prestigious Champions League. The latter tournament is no more, but the likes of Peters still roam South Africa at large.
‘For us to say a coach is successful or is the best at domestic level due to the fact he won competitions can’t be true. He is not winning the competitions; the players who are playing for him are doing so. To measure his abilities on winning trophies can’t be a true reflection.’
Domingo, who coached the Proteas between 2013 and 2017, had to consistently contend with the ignorance, arrogance and awfulness of people like Peters because his cricketing pedigree just could not be acknowledged.
It is telling that he goes to another country and all they see is a quality cricket coach.
Former Proteas batsman and Cape Cobras coach Ashwell Prince in the past week confirmed he would be joining Domingo as Bangladesh’s specialist batting coach. His appointment was lauded because of his pedigree, as a player and what he achieved as a coach in the Western Cape.
Prince was also in the news because of his damning testimony at the Social Justice and Nation Building hearings.
Prince said he was supposed to be living his dream playing for his country but that it was an absolute nightmare. He had played 66 Tests and 49 ODI’s for the Proteas but he had to live with constantly being called a quota player because he wasn’t classified white in South Africa.
He said white players in the Proteas felt that the black players, the coloured players, the Indian players and the non-white players, were the problem in South African cricket. He described playing for South Africa as a war against prejudice and it was a war to win for the oppressed people of South Africa.
Tellingly, he concluded: ‘As far as a team, there was no team.’
Prince spoke of his joy at playing for Lancashire in England, where he is revered because of his ability as a player.
Prince, in partnership with another former Proteas batsman Alviro Petersen, scored a Lancashire batting record of 501 and became only the 13th pair in the history of First Class cricket to pass 500 runs in an innings. In South Africa, Prince and Petersen were referred to as quotas. In England, they were described as exceptional cricketers.
When Prince retired, having scored 2000 runs across all formats in his final season, and helped Lancashire win their first T20 trophy and promotion to the First Division, he was celebrated for his professionalism, his leadership, his mentorship and his run-scoring.
It is no wonder that Prince describes his time in England as the happiest of his career because he was finally acknowledged as a fine cricketer, who just happens to be South African. It was an acknowledgement he has never experienced in his own country.
Prince described his international career as ‘lonely’ and said ‘a person knows when a person is welcome and you know when you are not welcome.’
This week Prince was made to feel everything but lonely when Bangladesh confirmed his appointment to Domingo’s coaching team and the prose was in keeping with that from Lancashire coach and former England cricketer Ashley Giles when Prince retired.
‘Ashwell has been a great player throughout his career and has served Lancashire well during his spells with the club. Not only have his performances been exceptional but his experience has proved to be valuable for his team-mates within the dressing room.’
Prince said he always felt he belonged at Lancashire, and that It felt like home should feel.
Domingo has been praised for his contribution to Bangladesh cricket in a way he never was when at the Proteas.
Domingo and Prince, both from the Eastern Cape, coached and played for South Africa respectively, which should have been the pinnacle of their careers. Instead, it remains among their most painful memories and hopefully the next Domingo and Prince won’t have to travel to another country to experience the acceptance and respect that should be a given for anyone representing their country.