Many people consider Mark Boucher to be the favourite to take charge of the Proteas. However, the Proteas legend’s unwillingness to improve and develop himself as a coach should count against him.
Boucher’s efforts in Test cricket will probably never be surpassed. The East London-born wicketkeeper finished his 15-year international career with 999 international dismissals, including a world record 553 in 146 Tests for South Africa.
Boucher worked extremely hard on his glove work, especially after his first tour to England in 1998 when he struggled to cope with the ball swinging late after it had passed the batsman. But he ended up becoming South Africa’s greatest wicketkeeper, because of hours and hours of hard work.
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Boucher, though, probably didn’t do his talent with the bat justice, as he ended his Test career with only five centuries and an average of just under 31.
However, he will be remembered for many crucial knocks to win matches for the Proteas. He made a half-century and hit the winning runs in the epic ‘438 match’ against Australia, while a dogged 45 not out in the fourth innings of the third Test against England in Birmingham helped the Proteas to clinch a 2-1 series victory in 2008.
He worked hard on his game as a player and the stats certainly back that up. However, since moving into coaching after his playing career was ended by a debilitating eye injury, Boucher hasn’t exactly tried to empower himself.
The Titans appointed Boucher as their coach in August 2016, and the Centurion side have enjoyed good success over the past three seasons, winning two One Day Cups, two T20 Challenge titles and one four-day Sunfoil Series trophy.
But the cash-flush Titans are blessed with a lot talent at the union. When the Proteas are available, they basically field a national team, while they also have a couple of veterans with many decades of experience in their ranks, which most other franchises don’t have.
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However, in the previous four-day campaign, the Titans finished bottom of the first-class standings when they didn’t have their Proteas to pick from, while the Mzansi Super League franchise, the Tshwane Spartans, finished second from bottom in the standings with Boucher at the helm.
Boucher currently holds a Level 2 coaching certificate, which you earn automatically if you have played international cricket. The recommended requirement to coach at franchise level is a Level 3, while the national coach is expected to have a Level 4 qualification.
CSA organises one Level 3 course per year, while they also have an annual coaching seminar for cricket gurus around the country.
Over the last three years Boucher has only attended one coaching seminar. CSA has in the past invited Boucher to do his Level 3, but the former wicketkeeper declined that offer.
He has oodles of cricket experience, but these days that is not enough, especially with the administrators looking for an English football style ‘manager’ going forward to be take charge of the team.
Cricket is moving in a direction and thinking differently. We saw that at the World Cup, with teams such as England using different approaches in different situations, while the Proteas played the same, tired and nervous brand of cricket we have become accustomed to at the World Cup.
In other professions, people upskill themselves all the time. A medical doctor, for example, has to keep up with the latest trends and medicine, otherwise they won’t be able to their job effectively.
There are many other coaches around the country trying to empower themselves and studying new methods. To appoint someone who has no interest in improving himself as a coach would be a slap in the face for those working their backsides off to improve themselves as coaches.
Elsewhere in the world, current Australia coach Justin Langer first paid his dues as an assistant coach under Tim Nielson in 2009, before taking the reins on a temporary basis in 2016. In 2018 he was appointed permanently after being earmarked for the job. Before that he was helped by Cricket Australia to get his coaching badges.
If Boucher is serious about the Proteas job, he should have shown some interest in empowering himself over the last three years. He has been afforded the chances …
The Proteas need a coach who can take them into a brave new future. You can’t do that with an old dog who doesn’t want to learn new tricks.