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Exclusive: T20 World Cup Win Would Be Massive for Cricket in South Africa, says Russell Domingo

Former Proteas coach Russell Domingo believes a World Cup victory could be transformative for South African cricket, bringing in sponsorships and revitalizing the sport at all levels, as Aiden Markram's team aims to break past tournament jinxes and secure their first T20 World Cup title.

Wriddhaayan Bhattacharyya
W. Bhattacharyy

Last Updated: 2024-06-28

Louis Hobbs

7 minutes read

Russell Domingo

Former Proteas coach Domingo expects the players to hold their nerve and close tight contests as they have so far in the tournament.

South Africa’s sole ICC tournament triumph, the Champions Trophy in Bangladesh, came in November 1998. It was three days after the country’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission presented its report that condemned the atrocities during the apartheid era. It was a new start for the nation and cricket brought them hope.

Twenty-five years and eight months later, they are on the cusp of a new wave again as Aiden Markram's boys’ eye the elusive World Cup title after beating Afghanistan by nine wickets in the semi-final of the T20 World Cup fixture in Tarouba.

South Africa has appeared in multiple semi-finals in the T20I and ODI World Cups but could never cross the line. This time, they are better poised as they have broken the semi-final jinx.

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There is a lot more than cricket that is at stake in South Africa.

Russell Domingo

World Cup Victory Can Turn the Tide in CSA

Former South Africa coach Russell Domingo, who spent six years with the side until 2017, believes a World Cup victory could be "massive" for Cricket South Africa.

“The board ran into rough waters in the past few years. It lost sponsorships and struggled to generate revenue. South Africa has been yearning for this opportunity for 30 years. It is not just another game. It's a World Cup final, so embrace that sort of high against the high expectations. There will be a lot of nerves, but it is a chance to do something special, which no other Proteas team has done before,” Domingo told SportsBoom.com.

"A World Cup win for South Africa will be massive for the academies, youth cricket, emerging cricket, domestic cricket. It's not just about them winning on Saturday there is a greater picture of money coming back into the game, and sponsors wanting to associate with the team again," he added. 

Image Credits: Scroll.in

Image Credits: Scroll.in

How to Approach the Final

Domingo expects the players not to feel intimidated or complacent as the best performance is still due.

"I don't think they have played amazing cricket, but they have played well in the crucial stages which I believe is the most important thing. They have bowled good overs when it was needed," he said.

Throwing light on the challenges of bowling to the likes of Jos Buttler or Rohit Sharma, he said: "They should not be overawed since they have beaten and bowled to these batters in the past. They have been successful against them. The event should not change your thinking and skills. You are a bowler bowling to a batter at the end of a day."

What Worked for Proteas

Domingo feels it is unfair to use the word 'choker' for South African cricketers as they have only lost to good teams and were unlucky on certain occasions.

"They have lost to Australia, India, New Zealand and Pakistan in the semi-finals who were better on that day. A lot of these players have been playing in World Cups. This team may have lost six months ago to Australia in the 50-over format, and sometimes, you will need luck to go for you.”

"Against Afghanistan, they lost the toss and bowled first, and against Australia in the 50-over World Cup, they won the toss and batted first in tough conditions. In the previous years, they managed to lose some close games, and this time, they have picked the big moments well. They held their nerve and won the tight contests," said Domingo, who guided the Proteas to the T20 World Cup semi-final in 2014 and the ODI World Cup semi-final in 2015.

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He (Virat Kohli) is one of the greatest players to play the game.

Russell Domingo

The Potential Virat Kohli Problem

Virat Kohli has not performed in the tournament so far, but the big games could belong to him. The last time I was involved in a semi-final, Virat got 72 off 44 and beat us in Dhaka. He just came off an amazing IPL and it has just been five or six games in tough conditions for the batters.”

“If I were the coach, I would have no concerns with his form going into big games against England and possibly, South Africa," concluded Domingo, who is currently the coach of domestic team Lions in South Africa.

Wriddhaayan Bhattacharyya is a cricket journalist based in India who takes a keen interest in stories that unfold on and off the field. His expertise lies in news writing, features and profiles, interviews, stats, and numbers-driven stories. He has also worked as a podcaster and talk show host on cricket-related shows on YouTube and Spotify.