Proteas head coach Mark Boucher strongly believes his charges are more than ready to do battle with world champions England over the next three weeks.
The first of three T20Is between the two nations will be played at Newlands next week Friday, followed by the same number of ODIs in what will be the second time this year that South Africa and England front up in the limited-overs formats.
After winning only one series during his opening season as Proteas coach, Boucher says the team is up for the challenge and ready to embrace a new performance culture that will hopefully lead to better results on the field.
‘We have started afresh and restructured our values. It is all based on a performance model. Now is the time we can put it to the test, and who better to test us than the world champions England,’ Boucher said in a media conference on Thursday.
England beat the Proteas 2-1 in the T20I series earlier this year, while the three-match ODI series was shared 1-1 after the second encounter in Durban yielded no result due to rain.
But, having clinched a 3-0 ODI series whitewash over Australia before the Covid-19 pandemic struck, Boucher believes the Proteas are well capable to deliver a brand-new and exciting brand of cricket.
‘I am excited and nervous, but I think that is a good thing. A lot of the players are nervous, too,’ he added.
‘We want to be nice and aggressive, that is the way the game is going. You can’t be mavericks either, you need to be smart. We are trying to help the batters and bowlers add shots or varieties of balls to their game to help them develop.’
Boucher also disclosed that he tested positive for coronavirus recently after experiencing body pains during a net session. Fortunately, he wasn’t seriously afflicted.
The former Proteas wicketkeeper, though, stressed the squad’s responsibility to stick to safety regulations after a current Proteas player returned a positive test upon the team’s arrival in Cape Town earlier this week.
‘I was one of the lucky ones. I didn’t even know that I had it. I was training for a few big runs during our off-season. When I did find out that I had it‚ I felt a little bit down for one or two days.
‘I was throwing to the guys in the nets and my body was aching and paining a bit and I thought it was because I haven’t thrown balls for so long.
‘I’m thankful I didn’t get a bad dose of it as it lasted for two to three days and it was done. Hopefully that happens to a few people who do get it. It is quite sad when people get it to the extent where they lose their lives. That’s why I keep saying that Covid-19 is bigger than sport and that we have to look after the person who has it‚ rather than thinking about a sports team.’