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Boucher sees light at end of tunnel for Proteas

Proteas coach Mark Boucher, looking back on his first summer at the helm of the national side, says there is a “light at the end of tunnel”. 

The summer started with the Test series against England over the festive season, which South Africa lost 3-1. The ODI series between the sides was drawn 1-1 while England also emerged victorious from the T20 series, winning 2-1. 

Australia were next to arrive on South African shores and, in those limited overs series, the hosts showed marked improvement in results, losing the T20 series 2-1 but then bouncing back to win the ODI series 3-0. 

The start of the new era under Boucher has had mixed results, but there was certainly improvement towards the back-end of the summer as the Proteas found some momentum against the Aussies. 

“If I look back on the team’s performance and the progress, I think it’s quite disappointing, to be honest,” Boucher acknowledged on Wednesday.

“Especially against England, we didn’t perform like we wanted to perform.

“In saying that, I think as a new coaching staff we asked some questions and I think we got some answers … some good, some bad.

“The nice thing for me at the end of the summer was the light at the end of the tunnel, especially in our shorter formats. I think we’ve got a lot of work to do in our Test cricket still … probably a lot of rebuilding with regards to our team.

“The exciting thing for me was more the white ball cricket to see the guys grow a bit. We gave opportunities to quite a few youngsters and they really started to gel together as a team and not just rely on one guy. The performance against Australia was the light at the end of the tunnel.”

The Proteas had their three-ODI tour of India last month scrapped without a ball being bowled – the first match was washed out – as the coronavirus pandemic exploded out of control. Now, their mid-year tours to Sri Lanka and then the West Indies are also in doubt.  

“I certainly know that it’s not a finished product. We’ve got a hell of a lot of work to do, but that’s what we’ve got to look towards going forward now,” Boucher added.

“I am pleased with quite a few of the youngsters. We wanted to give opportunities to guys where we thought we could rest a couple of the senior players and almost throw them into the deep end.

“I was pleasantly surprised and it left us in a situation towards the back-end of the season where it was a nice situation to be in.

“We were effectively selecting from a pool of 20-odd players … which I think is good for South African cricket.”

– Compiled by Lloyd Burnard

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