- Proteas head coach Mark Boucher wants his side to be “aggressive but smart” when they take on England this month.
- The Proteas will play their first international cricket in nine months.
- All six matches – three T20s and three ODIs – will be played between Cape Town and Paarl.
Aggressive, but smart.
That is the philosophy that head coach Mark Boucher wants to have embedded in his Proteas as a new era of South African cricket gets underway later this month.
Boucher, more than most, embodied both of those characteristics as a player and now, as he looks to gather some momentum almost a year after taking over at the Proteas, that is the direction he is pushing his players in.
The Proteas will take on England in three T20s and three ODIs starting from 27 November in what will be their first international cricket since March.
Back then, Boucher was just starting to find his feet on the international coaching scene with the Proteas having displayed encouraging signs in a 2-1 T20 loss and 3-0 ODI series win against Australia at home.
Before that, the Proteas drew their ODI series against England – also at home – and went down 2-1 in the T20s.
The results haven’t always been there, but the Boucher era was off to a promising enough start in white-ball cricket.
The coronavirus pandemic then took centre stage as sport around the world stopped, but the Proteas are now back in camp and the journey to the 2021 T20 World Cup in India will begin at Newlands next Friday.
Given that England has played international white-ball cricket as recently as September, they will probably start this tour as favourites.
Boucher, though, is fully aware of the bigger picture.
He acknowledges that results will always be important for South Africa, but he has already committed to rotation over the next few weeks to look at as many players as possible with the road ahead in mind.
Equally important will be the way the Proteas approach their cricket.
“We have decided a way that we want to play … we want to be nice and aggressive. I think that’s the way that the game is going, and we have to keep up with the direction of the game,” Boucher told media this week.
“The smartness is also something that we’ve spoken a lot about.
“It’s one thing going out there and saying you’re going to be aggressive, but you also don’t want to be mavericks. You want to be nice and smart and that is something we want to improve on.
“We’ve identified the way we want to play, and then it’s about identifying players who can play that sort of way while also giving opportunities for guys to grow because maybe their game plans don’t suit that style of play.
“If we can start moving in that direction – adding a few shots to their game if they’re batters or some different deliveries for bowlers – then we’re challenging players and they’ll be moving in the right direction.”
When any coach starts with a new team, there is an acceptance that it will take time before his or her philosophies start resulting in sustained performance, and with Boucher’s first year as Proteas coach heavily disrupted, that is even more of a challenge.
Given the doom and gloom that has surrounded South African cricket this year as a result of the administrative calamities, Boucher knows that the Proteas have an opportunity now to change the perceptions surrounding South African cricket, and getting one over the 50-over world champions would be the perfect way to start doing just that.
“I think it’s a whole structure and a plan that we need to give a bit of time, but we also understand that time is one thing, but we need to win as well,” he said.
“Everything is about performance: the culture, the philosophy … we want to win, and we want to learn while we’re winning as well.”