SA in Sri Lanka

Domingo lifts Proteas' bar

2014-07-30 05:00
Russell Domingo and Hashim Amla (AFP)

Johannesburg - Fresh off regaining the number-one spot in the ICC Test rankings, Proteas coach Russell Domingo says there is still plenty room for improvement for his side.

South Africa held out on the final day of the second Test to draw the match in Colombo on Monday to claim a 1-0 series win over Sri Lanka and subsequently reclaimed the top spot on the rankings.

The Proteas had been ranked number one in the format since July 2012 when they beat England away.

They recently gave up the summit to Australia in March in Cape Town after losing the three-match series 2-1 against the team from Down Under.

"The Test side has now regained the number-one Test ranking, but we know we're not the finished article," Domingo said at the team's arrival in the country on Tuesday.

"There's still a lot of work to do and a lot of tinkering to the side trying to find the right combination of players going forward.

"There will be one or two opportunities for some other players to make an impact.

"While we are number one in the world, we're still a long way off from where we need to be.

"But winning a Test series in Sri Lanka is something the players will cherish and be proud of for a very long time."

It was the first series in charge for new captain Hashim Amla after Graeme Smith retired in March, and Domingo lauded the leadership of the new skipper.

Before the series, South Africa had won just two Tests from 10 attempts in Sri Lanka since 1993, and a series win had seemed unlikely.

"Twenty-one years was a long time since we had success in Sri Lanka," Domingo said.

"The way Hashim led his troops in his first series was testament to the type of leader he's going to be.

"He was able to get the best out of his players in tough conditions. They withstood serious pressure on the final day of the series, and Hashim's calming influence on the team was outstanding."

On the One Day International (ODI) side, South Africa also tasted success with a 2-1 series win over the hosts in difficult conditions.

Domingo said ODI captain AB de Villiers deserved a great deal of praise for their performance in that format of the game.

"Credit must go to AB for the one day series, a year ago there were a lot of questions around him," the Proteas coach said.

"But the way he's led the side over the last year with series wins over Pakistan in Pakistan, the number-one ODI side in the world, India in South Africa and now Sri Lanka in Sri Lanka is evidence of how far he's come as a leader."

Quinton de Kock continued his positive start to his ODI career with a series clinching century in the final match.

De Villiers blasted 108 runs off 71 balls in the same game as the Proteas posted a mammoth 339 for five in their 50 overs.

"On the batting front, Quinton de Kock, Hashim and AB were the three leading runscorers for us and they played really well," he said.

"The structure of play, we seem to be devising a pattern of play that is successful. It's led us to winning 12 of our last 15 One-Day Internationals."

The one concern, though, was the form and fitness of all-rounder Jacques Kallis, who was bidding to be part of the Proteas 2015 World Cup squad.

In the three matches, Kallis did not bowl as he battled a back niggle, and made scores of 4, 1, and 0 with the bat in a miserable series for the 38-year-old.

Domingo, however, was not too concerned about the current form of Kallis.

"Jacques Kallis played the three ODIs and I'm sure there will be questions about him.

"He came back early to try and recover from a few niggles, and we just need to touch base with him tomorrow and check out how his recovery is going.

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