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Proteas coach Boucher looking forward to implementing new identity

Proteas head coach mark Boucher outlined what the goals are for the team once the season does get underway.

FILE: South Africa's cricket team head coach Mark Boucher looks on during a team training session at the SuperSport Park Cricket Stadium in Centurion, on 20 December 2019, ahead of a four-match Test series against England starting on 26 December 2019. Picture: AFP

JOHANNESBURG - Proteas men’s coach, Mark Boucher has said that the team's culture camp in Mpumalanga last month was important for the players as they attempt to lay the foundations for a new identity for their young squad of players.

SA cricket in general has had a year to forget with all of the backroom disruptions in recent months and things weren’t that much better before the coronavirus enforced break, with the side winning just one series last season.

“It was important for this team to create a new identity. It (just) happened a little bit later than expected,” Boucher continued. “It was good to have a deeper squad as well, I haven’t really been given the opportunity to meet a lot of them personally so it was really nice to catch up with them – see a couple of new faces and see a couple of old faces, spend a bit of time together and get into the nitty-gritty about where we want to go as a team”, he said.

“The one thing about the way myself and Enoch want to try and drive this team is to have players take ownership and responsibility for their team. We had really good mediators who came in. It wasn’t about the management; it was really about the players getting a couple of things off their chests and being open and honest. There were some really difficult topics at times, but for me, it showed that we as a team might be young, but we are growing quickly”, he said.

Cricket South Africa is currently working to bring a return to play and finalise dates for both the domestic and international seasons after more than six months of no action.

Boucher outlined what the goals are for the team once the season does get underway.

“It’s all about performance and that’s key for me,” he explained. “We don’t want to be a nice group of guys and be eighth in the world. I’d rather be a challenging group of guys and be competing for the number one spot and they all want that as well which is great to hear. We’re all aligned in the right direction, and although it’s all still words, we still need to go out there and try and live it, rather than have it be words coming out of our mouths. I’m happy that the players are happy, but now the hard work starts”, he said.

“We want to get on the field and start playing. It’s been a long break, I don’t think the players have had this long a break since school days. Although they’ve been practicing, you (as a coach) want to put that practice into match experience. A few guys have moved over to the IPL, so they’ll be happy that they’ll get some game time”, said Boucher.

The former wicket-keeper also addressed the issue of the test captaincy, with Faf du Plessis no longer in that position.

“We’ll look to select someone else for the Test role. One of the things that we’ve learned from a side like England is a guy like Eoin Morgan comes in and he’s got a lot of time to plan because he’s not involved in the Test team. So, when he goes away from white ball cricket, he’s got an opportunity to sit down and plan, so when they sit down as a white ball team again, there’s a very clear direction of where they want to go. Sometimes, when a player and especially the captain is involved in all three formats, it can be an automatic swap from format to the other because there’s not a lot of time in between. So that’s the positive, you get a captain who can sit down and really plan what he wants and he can try and drive that vision to the players and it gives you some freshness when there’s a short turnaround time between the formats”, he said.

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