Proteas looking for redemption in ODI series against Australia
Mark Boucher, the beleaguered Proteas coach, was known to be a fighter during his playing days. A man to have by your side in the trenches when the going got really tough.
It’s for this reason that he remains defiant despite South Africa having lost every series – bar one – across formats this past international summer.
There is still one final opportunity remaining for redemption with the ODI series starting against arch-enemies Australia in Paarl on Saturday. Boucher, though, knows this could possibly be the toughest assignment yet.
“It was disappointing that we lost those last T20 games against Australia. We put ourselves under pressure with the ball. And that was probably too many runs against such a high-quality attack. So, we know we need to be on song in both departments. We know have to start off very well,” he said.
There remains a genuine belief that the Proteas have the talent and skill to try and halt a serious run of poor performances. Boucher will no doubt remind them that the Proteas have been in worst places before, none more so than when the Aussies were here on South African shores back at the turn of the millennium.
It was the darkest period in South African cricket after former captain Hansie Cronje was banned for match-fixing. However, the Proteas rallied around their new skipper Shaun Pollock and memorably beat the Aussies 2-1 in a tightly-contested series.
Often in situations like these the players that stand up are the younger ones. They play without the burden of previous baggage and look to express themselves in the middle.
Boucher is hoping the new faces in the Proteas team such as Janneman Malan, Lutho Sipamla and Kyle Verreynne are able to make the most of their opportunities.
“It is quite exciting to have a few new faces and hopefully they can bring something different to the part and a lot for us to look forward to,” Boucher said.
“It’s a new format and we have a bit of confidence after the youngsters did fairly well against England, so we’ll feed off that.”
South Africa will also look to gain an edge on the Aussies with the match being played at Boland Park. The visitors have never played an One-Day International at the picturesque venue before, and with the unique diameters of the ground it can take a while for the opposition to adapt.
The field places, and judgment of angles, especially when the spin bowlers are in operation can be tricky, while the Paarl wind is another major consideration to take into account. Boucher is hoping that the local knowledge works in the Proteas’ favour.
The wind in Paarl is always something you have to take into account. The long and short boundary so you have to be smart about it. We have played enough international cricket to now to know the wind plays a part,” he said.
“We just want to play entertaining cricket. That’s what the fans come to watch and there is always good support here in Paarl. So, hopefully we can give them something to cheer about.”
Proteas squad: Quinton de Kock (captain), Temba Bavuma, David Miller, Kagiso Rabada, Andile Phehlukwayo, Tabraiz Shamsi, Lungi Ngidi, Beuran Hendricks, Heinrich Klaasen, Janneman Malan, Jon-Jon Smuts, Anrich Nortje, Lutho Sipamla, Keshav Maharaj, Kyle Verreynne.
Start: 1:30pm. TV: SS2 & Sabc3