The Proteas came out of their culture camp at Skukuza in Mpumalanga in August with a new adopted identity, and team director Mark Boucher has said he and his assistant Enoch Nkwe cannot wait to have the players lay the foundations for a new era.
Cricket SA announced on Monday that a lot of hard work is being done behind the scenes for a return to playing, which Boucher hopes will be soon.
Cricket SA said they are working out dates for the domestic and international seasons after more than six months of inactivity due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The 2019/2020 season was prematurely ended in March when the Covid-19 outbreak forced the team to cut short their limited-overs tour to India‚ while local cricket also ended abruptly a few days later.
“It was important for this team to create a new identity. It [just] happened a little bit later than expected‚” said Boucher.
“It was good to have a deeper squad as well. I haven’t really been given the opportunity to meet a lot of them personally, so it was really nice to catch up with them. See a couple of new faces and see a couple of old faces‚ spend a bit of time together and get into the nitty-gritties about where we want to go as a team.”
The Proteas have plummeted to an embarrassing sixth in the International Cricket Council (ICC) Test rankings and are ranked fifth in the two white-ball formats. Boucher said he wanted to see some improvements.
“It’s all about performance, and that’s key for me. We don’t want to be a nice group of guys and be eighth in the world. I’d rather be a challenging group of guys and be competing for the No 1 spot, and they all want that as well‚ which is great to hear‚” said Boucher.
“We’re all aligned in the right direction‚ and although it’s all still words, we still need to go out there and try and live it. I’m happy the players are happy‚ but now the hard work starts.
“We want to get on the field and start playing. It’s been a long break. I don’t think the players have had this long a break since school days.
“Although they’ve been practising‚ you [as a coach] want to put that practice into match experience. A few guys have moved over to the IPL [Indian Premier League]‚ so they’ll be happy with some game time.”
SA cricketers are poised to make a return to live action as optimism grows that domestic and international matches can be staged behind closed doors after President Cyril Ramaphosa last week announced that the lockdown has dropped to level 1.
“My biggest hope for the national team when we do get back to playing again is that we really drive the vision that they’ve [the players] put out for themselves. I do believe that we’ve got the talent to do that, and if we play in that sort of way‚ I have no doubt there’s going to be success‚” Boucher said.
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