Boucher disappointed with SA batters


Outgoing coach Mark Boucher expressed his disappointment that South Africa’s batters did not give their bowlers enough of a chance to challenge England in what he called a “missed opportunity” to win what was his last Test series in charge. Speaking after the 2-1 series defeat, but before his resignation was made public, a visibly downcast Boucher rued South Africa’s lack of runs which failed to back up a strong pace pack.
“I’m disappointed because it’s a missed opportunity,” he said. “We played some very good cricket but then we let ourselves down. We just didn’t put the runs on the board so we never quite knew how we could test England. We believed we had the bowlers to be able to take 20 wickets, but you’ve got to score runs.”
But as much as Boucher was less than satisfied with his batters, he could not bring himself to lay the blame entirely on them, instead distributing it between the opposition’s bowling, English conditions and lack of experience.
“I’m disappointed but understanding that our guys didn’t go out and try to play maverick cricket. We tried really hard. I could see it yesterday [day four of the Oval Test when South Africa worked their way to 83 for 1, but they went on to lose 9 for 86]. The guys got tested and fell short technically, but also because of good bowling. We knew England had a good attack and we were going to be tested. Unfortunately, we couldn’t stand up to it.
“We always knew we were going to be under pressure if the conditions went around a bit. In South Africa, the conditions are not the same. That ball doesn’t swing, the contact points are different, and these batters who are here have been consistently the best batters in our country. If you have a look at the last top seven who came to England and won the series [in 2012], between them there were 470-odd Test matches. With 10 of our batters who batted in the top seven in this series, we’re on about 170. There’s a big difference. The only way you get experience is to go out there and play.”
And that’s where South Africa have it tough. They only have one more three-Test series in the current World Test Championship (WTC) cycle, against Australia over the festive period, and will then play two-Test series until hosting England in 2026. Like captain Dean Elgar, who routinely laments the lack of Test cricket, Boucher also made the case for more games, albeit that the next Future Tours Programme (2023-2027) is decided and there is very little wiggle room.