Team Director Mark Boucher is optimistic about the future of the Standard Bank Proteas despite a tough summer, saying there was plenty of hope for the future.
The legendary former wicketkeeper was only appointed to his position in mid-December, on the eve of England arriving for a four-match Test series, which they won 3-1, before the 50-over world champions drew the one-day international leg of the tour (1-1) and won the three-match Twenty20 sequence 2-1.
The Proteas suffered another series defeat in T20s against Australia (2-1), but the young, Quinton de Kock-led team crushed Aaron Finch’s men, who were at full-strength, 3-0 in the ODIs.
“If I look back over the summer and reflect on the team’s performances and progress, especially against England and Australia, I think it was quite disappointing to be honest,” the Team Director said. “Especially against England, we didn’t perform like we wanted to perform.
“In saying that I think we, as a new coaching staff, we asked some questions and I think we got some answers. Some were good and some were bad.
“The nice thing for me about the whole summer was the light at the end of tunnel, especially in our short formats. I think we have a lot of work to do with our Test cricket still, there’s probably a lot of rebuilding in that respect. We had a couple of injuries as well which didn’t help the cause, but I think the exciting thing for me was more the white-ball cricket and to see the guys grow a bit.
“We gave a bit of opportunity to a couple of youngsters and they really started to gel together as a team and not just rely on one particular guy to carry them through.
“We didn’t get to play in India, which is unfortunate, because it would have been nice to have judged ourselves as a young side against them.”
South Africa had begun a packed 10-month schedule with a disappointing World Cup in England, before they toured India and lost a three-match Test series 3-0 and drew the T20 leg 1-1.
Both of those trips had different coaches, before Boucher stepped in under a new management system that is being shepherded by another Proteas legend in Graeme Smith – South Africa’s acting Director of Cricket.
What was eye-catching for the former Momentum Multiply Titans coach was the way young players, and also relatively new ones, like Janneman Malan, Lutho Sipamla, Jon-Jon Smuts, Anrich Nortje and Kyle Verreyne – to name a few – stepped up towards the back end of the season.
Boucher continued: “I’m pleased with quite a few of the youngsters even though it was always going to be difficult. I think one thing that we sort of wanted to do as a coaching staff and management was to give opportunities to guys where we saw that we could maybe rest a couple of the senior players and in a way almost throw them into the deep end and see what they could do.
“I was pleasantly surprised, which left us in a situation towards the back end of the season that was a nice situation to be in when a lot of guys were in good form. There was a lot of confidence. Our selecting was effectively coming from a pool of 20 odd players, which was a lot better than going into a side where you just go, ‘okay, well, these are eleven players that we’re definitely going to play.’ Now we have quite a few options and that is good for South African cricket,” he concluded.