A bitter pill to swallow, Boucher says after Proteas’ World Cup exit
Proteas coach Mark Boucher admits he is struggling to come to terms with the team’s failure to qualify for the semifinals of the ICC T20 World Cup in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
The South Africans beat in-form England by 10 runs in Sharjah on Saturday in a dramatic match that saw Rassie van der Dussen score an unbeaten 94 and bowler Kagiso Rabada claiming a rare World Cup hat-trick.
Though they won the match, the Proteas were not able to sneak into the knockout stages ahead of Australia, who boasted a better net run rate after they thrashed already eliminated West Indies by eight wickets earlier in the day.
“It was not successful because [we] have been knocked out of the World Cup, and it’s a bitter pill to swallow,” said Boucher. “I think we played some good cricket throughout the campaign because there was a lot of pressure after the first game. We put in a lot of hard work at training, our chats were good, and I think we beat the in-form side in white ball cricket on Saturday night.
“It’s a tough one for the guys in the change room. We knew what we had to do [on Saturday], but the equation was very difficult for us to get through. I just said to the guys, let’s try to control what we can control,” Boucher said.
“Unfortunately we couldn’t control other results out there, but we did the job against England by beating them.”
Asked where they could have done better, Boucher pointed to the loss to Australia in the first match and not having put Bangladesh to the sword.
“The first game against Australia was tight, we just didn’t bat well enough. Looking at that game, we lost the toss and batted first. We weren’t 100% sure what a good total was because we were the first to go out there.
“We looked at getting 160, but 130 to 140 could have been competitive, so we could have done better there. Chasing a small total against Bangladesh, people may look at that match and say maybe we should have gone a bit harder there, but that was the intention.
“We lost three wickets — three wickets on a wicket that was going all over the show. Unfortunately ifs and buts don’t count now.”
The Proteas now turn their attention to the summer, which starts with the three-match ODI series against The Netherlands between November 26 and December 1 in Centurion.
That will be followed by the incoming series against India, which includes three Tests, three ODIs and four T20s between December 17 and January 27 next year.
Boucher said he hopes the focus will be on cricket and not off-field distractions.
“I hope so [no off-field distractions]. It has been tough on this team. We are finding the headlines for all the wrong reasons, and hopefully, even though we are out of the World Cup, there were some positives to take from the way the guys played, the passion and the energy they showed as a team.
“The guys have been really close behind closed doors and you can see it with the way they played out there. Temba [Bavuma] needs a pat on the back because he’s been fantastic in the team environment and he led from the front as well.
“This team is in a very good space at the moment. It may not come through every now and again, but I can guarantee you right now that they are very strong.”