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Boucher wants Proteas to be more positive

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Proteas head coach Mark Boucher admitted on Tuesday that occasionally, his team tend to adopt the safe option when the tough gets going.

Proteas coach Mark Boucher
FILE – Proteas coach Mark Boucher. Photo: Andrew Cornaga/www.photosport.nz/BackpagePix

Johannesburg – The Proteas already know how they want to play and what is successful for them in the T20 format, but head coach Mark Boucher admitted on Tuesday that occasionally they lapse and adopt the safe option.

South Africa has gradually refined the tools needed to implement the more assertive method they know they need in the white ball formats, but in India, as was the case at the World Cup last year, they took a backward step, when the occasion demanded the opposite.

With so much talk about batters’ strike rates – particularly skipper Temba Bavuma’s – Boucher and the rest of the coaching staff are saying that improving that part of the team’s play may require nothing more than the addition of one shot.

With that in the arsenal, the next step is to have belief, and that is something the players can only develop in the heat of battle.

Boucher described it as a ‘80-20’ in terms of the player’s mindset over skill. “You need the technical know-how to play the shot and have the options,” he said on Tuesday.

“Your mindset has to be to want to increase your strike rate and so you have to be open to that. Once you get the confidence from adding that extra shot – or the extra ball as a bowler – then you have to have the mindset to trust it. As a coaching team, as our philosophy sits, you want to be smart, you don’t want to just play maverick cricket.”

South Africa tied the five match series with India 2-2, after the final match in Bengaluru on Sunday was rained out. The Proteas had been 2-0 up but Boucher reflected that in the third match, the batters weren’t as authoritative as they would have liked.

ALSO READ: Time in the nets will boost Bavuma’s strike rate says Boucher

“We slipped up in one game, where we almost didn’t want to pull the trigger and put their bowlers under pressure, we spoke about it…in game 4 we knew what we had to do, but the wicket was up and down, so our chat was about going out and playing our new way rather than going back to our default selves, which we were guilty of a year or so back.”

South Africa lost that match by 82 runs after being bowled out for 87 – but they felt better about going down swinging, than nudging the ball around looking for singles.

“I’ve got no doubt that going forward we will learn from that one mistake — commit to the new philosophy — and get into the right mindset,” Boucher remarked.

ALSO READ: ‘I’ll take 2-2’, says Boucher after T20 series in India

“Ultimately you can’t win a World Cup with a tentative mindset, you’ve got to go out and play. India and England have shown us in the way they play. It’s the way forward, especially in the shorter version of the game.”

As for improving those strike rates, that could be a matter of adding just one shot to the batter’s repertoire. “We’ve had conversations about the first 10 balls — what are the goals; is it (to score) 10 off 10 or 14 off 10? Straight away that is one boundary extra and (if you have) 14 off 10, your strike is 140. So the margins are not as big as people think they are.”

Boucher added that a small change in how the players think, will prove helpful. “It’s a mindset as well because some guys are not used to taking a risk in their first six balls. We probably got undone, in the third game, where our intent wasn’t where it should have been. It’s a little bit of everything.”

“Looking at it in its entirety you may think it’s nearly impossible for a guy to get a strike rate of 140 if he’s at 120 but it could be merely adding another shot to his repertoire that could change that.”

The goal for South Africa as it is for other teams will be the World Cup in Australia, which starts in late October. The Proteas have matches in Ireland, England and against India again before heading Down Under, and Boucher doesn’t expect many drastic changes in personnel in that period. “What’s important is to have a bit of continuity.”

He’d also like the World Cup bound group to get as much game time together before the tournament. “We have to understand there is a World Cup squad coming out soon, and some players are concerned if they will be in that squad — it’s always tough for players,” he said.

“Once you get the squad together the guys can go out there and buy into the way we want to play, they will feel comfortable, understand their roles, and we can start to settle with the starting eleven.”

@shockerhess

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