Proteas coach Mark Boucher has expressed his delight and satisfaction with the involvement of the younger players in the Proteas camp during the past summer’s season of cricket.
Despite a tough couple of months for Boucher, where he took the reins as head coach of the national side a mere two weeks before the Test series against England began in December, the Proteas capped the season with an ODI series whitewash over Australia.
It was specifically in the limited-overs format where Boucher presented opportunities to a few youngsters, as well as other experienced players, to prove their worth to the former Proteas wicket-keeper.
Janneman Malan, Lutho Sipamla, Jon-Jon Smuts, Anrich Nortje and Kyle Verreyne all made significant impacts, while Heinrich Klaasen, who fell out of favour during Ottis Gibson’s reign, made a remarkable return to the Proteas team with a Man of the Series performance over the Aussies.
‘I’m pleased with quite a few of the youngsters even though it was always going to be difficult,’ said Boucher on Wednesday.
‘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.’
After suffering a disastrous 3-1 defeat by England in the Test series, the Proteas drew the ODI series against them, before the visitors won the T20I encounters as well.
Australia’s arrival on South African shores also signalled warning signs at the beginning when Aaron Finch’s men claimed the three-match T20 series.
But, fortunately for Boucher, his team, under the new leadership of Quinton de Kock and a number of brilliant individual performances by the likes of Malan, Smuts, Klaasen and Lungi Ngidi, provided some hope for the future to build on.
‘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, “OK, 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,’ concluded Boucher.