Former South African opening batsman, Alviro Petersen, on social media expressed his opinion that the Proteas team has regressed during the tenure of Mark Boucher. This has led to a tsunami of criticism against the former Proteas opening batsman. He is right, but coming from Petersen, who is a highly controversial character, it is no more than an outpouring of emotions against him.
During the Boucher tenure, the Proteas have played eleven series – three Test series (England, Sri Lanka and Pakistan), three ODI series (England, Australia and Pakistan) and five T20I series (England twice, Australia and Pakistan twice). The Proteas won two of the eleven series, against Sri Lanka in a Test series and Australia in an ODI series; they drew the ODI series against England. During this period, the Proteas played 33 international matches, losing 21, winning 11 and one with no result.
Boucher alone cannot be blamed for the poor performances of the Proteas, as much of the blame must be laid at the door of Cricket South Africa regarding its policies and the non-existent leadership. Coaching this team is nothing more than a poisoned chalice, but Boucher is the man in charge and he is accountable for their performances.
The bigger concern I have is the arrogant, dismissive attitude he has towards being held accountable. He said that if he had to worry about public opinion, he would have to hang himself. The fans are the lifeblood of the game; they pay for the entrance tickets and/or television subscriptions. Simply put, they are the game’s shareholders and need to be respected accordingly. Boucher needs to realise that he cannot be an island in his position; if he cannot come to terms with this, he must resign.
The other concern I have is around the selection of the team during the Pakistan T20I series. It was a team with no balance and resembled a selection process that was bankrupt. His refusal to give Kyle Verreynne, who is a special talent and will become a world-class player for South Africa, an opportunity in the series was nothing but ludicrous after his performance in the last ODI. The excuses that were presented when questioned on the matter proved that his selection policy was directionless and bankrupt.
The other interesting factor is Boucher’s ongoing discussion with AB de Villiers to be available for the T20 World Cup in India later this year. I agree with this because we all know De Villiers is a genius and we badly need him now. However, there is a bigger picture than this as there is another T20 World Cup in Australia in 2022 and the World Cup in India in 2023. He needs to commit himself for all three global tournaments in this very important phase of international cricket. If the global tournaments go wrong, it is difficult seeing South African cricket ever recovering.
The discussion with De Villiers is not about coaching or selection but policy and strategy. It will be very complex, based on commitment and finances, and will feature heavily in the decisions by both parties. Is this not the role that the Director of Cricket, Graeme Smith, must fulfil and not the coach? Also, he should be the one making media statements around this matter, and once again not the coach. This is exactly the role the Director of Cricket needs to fill.
Once again this confirms the organisational confusion at CSA regarding leadership, roles and accountability. The next problem looming will be financial; it is predictable.