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Mark Boucher doesn’t need pain medicine for ‘good headache’ ahead of T20 World Cup

Proteas head coach Mark Boucher. Picture: Kieran McManus/Shutterstock/BackpagePix

Proteas head coach Mark Boucher. Picture: Kieran McManus/Shutterstock/BackpagePix

Published Aug 6, 2022

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Cape Town – The return of former Kolpak players to South African cricket has been a source of fierce debate within the local system, but Proteas coach Mark Boucher believes "it has definitely added a different dimension" to his team.

The Proteas are enjoying a hugely successful tour of the United Kingdom thus far, having drawn the ODI series with world champions England 1-1, before claiming their first-ever white-ball series triumph with a 2-1 T20I victory over that country.

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They have since followed it up with a resounding 2-0 T20I series win over Ireland in Bristol on Friday.

After already witnessing the impact of Duane Olivier (Yorkshire) and Simon Harmer (Essex) over the home summer within the Proteas Test side, it was the turn of Rilee Rossouw (Hampshire) and Wayne Parnell (Worcestershire) to leave their imprint on the T20 outfit.

Rossouw was particularly devastating in the second T20I against England, where he blasted an undefeated 96 to help the Proteas level the series.

Equally, after already impressing with a solid return during the preceding India series, Parnell ran through the Irish on Friday night to complete career-best figures of 5/30.

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It is, however, not just their on-field performances that has impressed Boucher, but also the competition they have created within the Proteas squad for places in the starting XI, and the experience they have added to the dressing room in terms of having played all around the world in the various T20 leagues.

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"I think they have definitely added a different dimension to South African cricket, especially for the Proteas," Boucher said after the 44-run win.

"When you have guys like that coming in and performing, there is no space for guys to rest. It keeps players challenging for selection, and that can only push players to different heights.

"You have seen a little bit of that in this last tour as well. I think it's a very healthy place for South African cricket to be in."

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The Proteas certainly are in a much stronger position than they have been for the past 18 months, especially the batting unit, where there is now a bun-fight in regards to selection.

Formerly a back-up opener, Reeza Hendricks has put himself firmly into contention for a regular starting berth going forward, with two successive Player of the Series awards, while the emergence of youngster Tristan Stubbs has provided solid options in the middle-order.

Boucher believes this current state of affairs can only be a positive for the national team moving forward with a T20 World Cup later this year in Australia.

"Reeza has really come good on this tour," said Boucher.

"We've always known that Reeza can play, and he's been a fantastic player. I think it's just the way that he's gone about it, with a touch of a different mindset and being a little bit more aggressive, that has really stood out," Boucher said.

"I'm really happy for Reeza. He's a good player and he has stayed hungry. Four 50s in a row is doing something special in T20 cricket. I'm not sure how many people have done that.

"There is great competition in the squad at the moment and in quite a few positions as well. We did give a couple of opportunities to guys to see what they can do, and they came good, which is great for us to see.

"It's a good headache to have when there are so many guys vying for positions with a World Cup around the corner."

The Proteas will now enjoy a much-deserved break before the first Test against England gets under way at Lord's on August 17.

@ZaahierAdams

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