The Sunday Independent

It’s an ugly picture for Boucher

- STUART HESS

MARK Boucher believes that the Proteas remain on the right path and despite a very poor season, for which he takes responsibi­lity, explained that he sees no need to panic at the moment.

The raw data, of wins and losses, paints an ugly picture of Boucher’s tenure as the national men’s team’s head coach; in 11 series’s across all formats, South Africa has won just two, since Boucher started in December 2019. South Africa has lost all five T20 series’ in that time, a deeply concerning set of results just six months ahead of the next World Cup.

“We are on the right path. We’ve lost a couple of series’ and there have been reasons for that. I’m not going to make excuses, we have to try and win with whatever side we put out on the park. It has been quite tough,” said Boucher.

Despite the absence of crowds at stadia this season, there has, understand­ably, been a lot of anger about those results. “I take a massive amount of responsibi­lity as I should. I don’t shy away from it, I never have. I’m extremely hurt at the moment, so is the rest of the management and coaching staff. We put a lot of hard work into this.

“If I had to worry about public opinion and all the type of stuff I would have probably hung myself a long time ago. We’ve stuck to our guns with what we believe is the right way to go about the set-up. The pressure is going to be there no matter what. At this level of internatio­nal sport, one must expect it, if you can’t handle it, get out of the kitchen,” Boucher explained.

“There is no (reason to) panic for me yet, because I understand that we have been given some trying circumstan­ces over the last period of time.”

The Covid pandemic, the IPL, personal factors for some players and injuries all meant South African cricket’s playing depth was tested like at no other stage in recent memory. Boucher said that while it could be viewed as a positive that lots of players were given an opportunit­y over the last season, it also caused a hindrance in terms of building rhythm.

“We’ve given a lot of opportunit­ies, probably too many over this last little period, with Covid, with injuries, with the tours that happened and then didn’t happen, and now IPL.”

Eight players have made their T20 internatio­nal debuts in the last year, six of those coming in the last two series’s against Pakistan. It’s a high turnover and for all the criticism of Boucher, it is a mitigating circumstan­ce worthy of deeper reflection.

The quality of cricketers coming through from the domestic level isn’t good, and the recent T20 Challenge suggested standards had slipped. The best illustrati­on of that is fielding, with South Africa now no longer the pioneers the country’s players once were in that department.

Boucher will take a short break, but will resume training with the players as he looks ahead to what will be a busy year for the Proteas.

South Africa are due to tour the West Indies in June, for two Tests and five T20 Internatio­nals, and it is there that Boucher hopes to have all the IPL players and skipper Temba Bavuma back.

“We always earmarked the West Indies trip coming up now to have our full squad together, getting used to each other and hopefully to start getting used to winning a couple of games as well.”

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 ?? | BackpagePi­x ?? PROTEAS coach Mark Boucher during a training session at Newlands Cricket Stadium, Cape Town.
| BackpagePi­x PROTEAS coach Mark Boucher during a training session at Newlands Cricket Stadium, Cape Town.

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