Proteas coach Mark Boucher has hit back at critics following his side’s Test and T20I series victories over the West Indies.
Boucher came under intense criticism after South Africa lost eight of their previous 11 series (across all formats) since his appointment as head coach, with many openly calling for his dismissal. The victories in the West Indies will have come as welcome relief and may mean a stay of execution for the former Proteas wicketkeeper.
Boucher, however, has stated that he does not let criticism influence him and he is determined to continue building with the Proteas.
“Criticism comes with the job. I couldn’t be too bothered about the guys criticising me. If you’re here and you see what we’re trying to do and how we’re trying to work things out, I don’t know if you would have the same mindset.
“A lot of people wrote us off before we even started playing this series. As much as you can talk to players, they’ve got to go out there and produce a result. After the first game – when we didn’t play well – we learnt a couple of lessons. We put that into practice and we won the next two. We didn’t play well in the previous game and we had a really solid game today.
“We’ve got a team that, if we rock up on the day, we could possibly beat anyone.”
The Proteas may have won the T20I series 3-2 but made hard work for themselves and often had to rely on the batting of Quinton de Kock and the bowling of Tabraiz Shamsi to save their blushes. The former top-scored for the Proteas with 225 across the five matches, while the latter was the only bowler on either side to go at an economy of under six.
Boucher has acknowledged that the Proteas did not perform at their best to a man, but prefers to take the positives from a hard-fought victory over the current world champions.
“If you’re winning series against a strong team with a couple of guys out of form then you must be doing something right. I think we were very smart in difficult conditions. The West Indies were playing their brand of cricket and we were playing our brand of cricket, and the guys bought into that.
“You’ve got to try and find a way to win and that’s exactly what we did. We need to get some guys in form so we can finish off innings better, but there are so many positives.”
Looking ahead to the T20 World Cup, the Proteas coach feels that the slow pitches in the West Indies may prove to be the perfect preparation for the conditions in the UAE.
“We’re probably going to playing in conditions like this in the UAE,” Boucher said. “The wickets, after the IPL, are going to be dry. We took a lot of lessons out of how to play in these conditions. You’ve got to be skilful and you’ve got to be smart.
“If anything, conditions are going to go further towards the extremes of what we would have had in the subcontinent. They’re playing the IPL there and there aren’t a lot of grounds. So, those wickets are going to be worn, and the scores are going to go down.
“It’s going to be tough to bat, especially at the end of the innings. The IPL will give us an idea of what sort of scores we will see and which combinations work.”
The Proteas may be on the up, but they will need to hit their straps if they are to finally secure their maiden trophy in international cricket.
© Agence France-Presse