If ever there was a time to change things, it is now. Right now. The next World Cup is only four years away.
This World Cup has proven once more that everyone has an opinion. And they feel strongly about theirs. Alviro Petersen. Jacques Kallis. Pat Symcox. Paul Harris. Then add in Joe Public.
It’s plain to see there are problems wherever you look in the cricketing landscape in this proud country. The administration of the game is in ruins. The provincial system is weak and getting weaker. And it’s all festered into the worst World Cup display by the national team.
All is not lost, though. No matter how depressed you may feel as you watch the Proteas limp through their two remaining fixtures.
How to rid the game of inept and self-serving administrators is a little too complex for one column. And restoring the franchise game to its former glories is also a topic for another day. Maybe once we figure out how to a) stop Kolpak deals or b) using Kolpak to strengthen the player base without losing talent forever. That ‘other day’ appears to be far, far away.
But how do we reboot the Proteas? The pride of the nation?
Simple. A new coach. A new team around the coach. And letting go of players who that new coach may not feel would buy into his philosophy.
The answer to the coach is simple. It is Mark Boucher. He of nearly 150 tests for the Proteas and a few games shy of 300 ODIs. The coach of the Titans since 2016 – he had no experience before then but has led the team to five domestic titles.
He’s been around the block. And then again. And he’s enjoyed success every step of the way. SA cricket’s very own answer to football’s Pep Guardiola.
And the time is now when it comes to giving him the job. You know, or risk him being lured to coaching a team abroad – dare we mention the lure of the IPL riches.
What Boucher brings in experience as a player will be bolstered by the minds that he will be able to bring into the team room – Jacques Kallis, Jonty Rhodes, Gary Kirsten and Allan Donald are just a few. All of whom enjoyed glittering careers and all of whom have tasted some success as a coach beyond the battle lines.
He will be well placed to assess the short- and long-term squad needs. Let him be the man to decide on how best to use Faf du Plessis, David Miller, Hashim Amla and Dale Steyn.
I’ve not been a fan of Ottis Gibson’s term. It can’t end soon enough. But what the current boss has done is give the new wave of Proteas some valuable game time even if it’s come with some mental scars.
Hand Boucher a team that includes a fit Lungi Ngidi with a rested Kagiso Rabada in attack before handing Aiden Markram, Quinton de Kock, Andile Pheluhkwayo and Zubayr Hamza the tools to succeed at the highest level and you can already see the team rising from the ashes.
Replacing Imran Tahir will be an impossible task but there’s no reason why Boucher won’t take Keshav Maharaj’s game to the next level. Or that of Chris Morris. Or Rassie van der Dussen.
A tour to India is hardly the ideal place to take any fresh-faced squad with a new coach at the helm but if anyone was going to put up a fight it will be Boucher.
He’s done it before. Now give him the chance to do it again. His way, of course.