South Africa coach Russell Domingo has condemned David Warner for making ball-tampering inferences against his team, but argued the slurs will entrench the home team’s advantage for the series-deciding Test against Australia starting on Saturday.
Domingo said his team was buoyant from winning so convincingly in Port Elizabeth last week, and argued it put the Proteas in the prime position to win the third Test in Cape Town.
“A breakfast area the day after winning a cricket game and losing a cricket game are two totally different places,” he said after his team trained at Newlands on Wednesday.
“No matter how you try to not emphasise the importance of winning [after a loss], because you want to focus on processes. It is very important and we know it.
“After a win you just need to emphasise the good stuff about why you’ve been so successful. That’s the feeling I get at the moment. There’s a good energy around the side and guys know they’ve played more to their potential. Probably not at their best, but to their potential in the past Test match.”
Domingo argued the confidence derived from the 231-run win in Port Elizabeth would be complemented by a hunger to punish Australia opening batsmen Warner for casting doubt on the legitimacy of its ball-handling tactics in the field, because of the significant reverse-swing its bowlers were able to achieve.
“It’s a bit disappointing when guys throw those kind of accusations around,” the coach said.
“We’re a seriously motivated team. We’ve added 10 per cent to our motivation levels after those comments that he’s made.
“We see it as a massive form of motivation for us, to show the Australian side that we don’t need to play cricket in that way.
“We pride ourselves on playing the game as honestly and openly as possible.
“We’re very motivated by the comments he made, so it’s probably good for us.”
Domingo said he considered Warner’s comments too distasteful for he and his players to either ignore or laugh off.
“I don’t think it’s a nice comment that he’s made. That’s it,” he said. “It doesn’t sound good when sides are accusing other sides of… whatever. I don’t think it should be done.”
The South Africa coach also reckoned Australia would be somewhat burdened by having been bowled out for 47 on its past visit to Newlands, in late 2011, even though his team was dismissed for a sub-100 score in the same match.
“I saw a great banner at St George’s [Park in Port Elizabeth] . . . it said ‘I know what you did last summer – 47 all-out’,” he joked. “I’m sure they’ll probably look at the highlights over the next couple of days to see what happened here last time, and there will be a little bit of anxiety I suppose – but that’s part of it. We got bowled out for 96 last time.”
Domingo said his only request to the Newlands curator had been for “just a good cricket wicket”, not a pitch with any specific characteristics.
“We have had a chat. It looks a good wicket. I think he will probably want to keep a bit more moisture in it because it looks like it’s a wicket that could be ready to play on tomorrow [Thursday]. Maybe it’s a day or two ahead of schedule. There’s a lot of heat around so I’m sure he’ll be looking to get some moisture into it in the next day or so,” he said.
Domingo also insisted the Proteas were wary of the potential of Mitchell Johnson to strike back, after he claimed only three wickets in Port Elizabeth.
“He’s a wonderful bowler, he’s been in great form for the past couple of months. If we get complacent against Mitchell Johnson I think we do it at our own peril,” he said.
“I don’t think we’ve nullified him at all. We’ve got to make sure we do the basics against him again. He’s had an impact against South Africa before and he probably will at some stage again. But we’ve also had a lot of success against him before.
“We can take a lot of confidence out of how we played him in Port Elizabeth, but there’ll always be something in the back of your mind and knowing he’s the guy who can turn a session around, can turn a match around. You’ve got to be on your guard every single time.”