Mark Boucher’s contribution as a player to South African cricket and to his country can’t be overstated. Picture: Muzi Ntombela/BackpagePix
Mark Boucher’s contribution as a player to South African cricket and to his country can’t be overstated. Picture: Muzi Ntombela/BackpagePix

Mark Boucher the Proteas coach not living up to the hype of Mark Boucher the cricketer

By Mark Keohane Time of article published Apr 23, 2021

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PROTEAS cricket coach Mark Boucher has won three of the 13 series in all formats of the game: T20s, ODIs and Tests.

He has lost at home and abroad. He has played with a full-strength side and he has also introduced second-string teams because of unavailability of players in the Indian Premier League, as just one example.

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His international return as a coach is dismal, but why is he seemingly exempt from criticism? And why the contempt from so many shown to the few who dare question Boucher and his role as national coach?

Boucher had many glorious moments as a national player. He scored runs, took catches and made stumpings. He was a permanent fixture in the national side for more than a decade. He was considered one of the best wicket-keepers in the world, capable of producing as a middle to lower order batsman.

As a player, the overwhelming impression was that he gave his teammates confidence and he caused concern for the opposition.

The Proteas when Boucher played were always a tougher proposition. His national teammates have said that often. The opposition have said a similar thing.

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There is no shortage of respect for Boucher, the cricketer. There is much respect for Boucher, the conservationist and his influence in awareness around ensuring the future of rhinos. Boucher was campaigning for rhinos and the importance of wildlife long before it became fashionable.

His contribution to South African cricket and to his country can’t be overstated and will always be applauded.

Every time Boucher has delivered, there has been applause because his actions have demanded acknowledgement.

But, and here’s the big but: When will Boucher be judged on his lack of delivery as a national coach?

ALSO READ: Is Proteas coach Mark Boucher still wearing his Titans hat, when it comes to Kyle Verreynne?

Is this passageway to a constant pardon due to his pedigree as a player, or is it because white coaches aren’t questioned?

Is it a colour thing?

My tweet earlier in the week asked that very question: “Every time (former Proteas coach) Russell Domingo won a series – and that was nearly every time – I read how he was not good enough and a quota.

Every time Mark Boucher loses a series – and that is nearly every time – I read how he is good enough and that he was a great player.”

The tweet had a reach of 83 000 and a total engagement of 3000.

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I was accused of promoting racial division and playing the political card. I was sworn at for apparently showing Boucher such disrespect. I was reminded of his match-winning four in the 438 ODI win against Australia.

I was insulted for not doing anything remotely as moral as Boucher’s Save the Rhino campaigns and I was told to f*** off. I was also told that Domingo had great players and Boucher was working with second-rate cricketing citizens.

I will spare you the volume of the insults. They were plenty. Not so the response to the one question I asked, which was why the lack of analysis in his results as coach of the Proteas?

I was told to “go pick your quota coach and see what happens”.

I didn’t have to pick a “quota” coach. I simply went back into the record books and saw that a supposed “quota” coach, with seven “quota” players, beat Australia 5-0 in a ODI series.

That coach had once upon a time been picked and bulleted.

His team beat Australia 5-0 and he was told to reapply for his job. He was never reappointed.

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Boucher, by contrast, has been told his job is safe.

Domingo, when he departed, could argue it had nothing to do with cricket and cricket results.

Those questioning Boucher’s consistent failures could equally argue that his continued presence as national coach has nothing to do with cricket and cricket results.

@mark_keohane

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