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‘Team is in a very good space’, says Proteas coach

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South African players celebrate their win in the ICC men’s Twenty20 World Cup cricket match between England and South Africa at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium in Sharjah on November 6, 2021. (Photo by Aamir QURESHI / AFP)

Proteas coach Mark Boucher is hoping that with the steady progression of the national team on the field over the past few months that the cricket once again returns to take centre stage.

DUBAI – Proteas coach Mark Boucher is hoping South African cricket fans can return to stadiums at home this summer to see up close the strong bond that exists within his team.

The Proteas have been on the road since April and have not played in front of their home supporters since prior to the start of the Covid-19 pandemic back in March 2020. But with the restrictions slowly being eased in South Africa with spectators having returned to football and domestic cricket matches recently, there is great optimism that the Proteas will be playing in front of crowds once India arrive in the country for a bumper end-of-year tour.

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The New Year Test against India has already been moved from the Wanderers back to Newlands in Cape Town in anticipation of fans returning to the stadium.

“This team is in a very good space at the moment. It might not come through in media every now and again, but I can guarantee you right now that they are very, very strong and together and hopefully that is reflecting on our performances and hopefully people can come and watch the guys and see it for themselves when we do get back home,” Boucher said after the win over England which unfortunately was not enough for the Proteas to progress to the T20 World Cup semi-finals here in the UAE.

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Boucher’s term since taking over as Proteas head coach in late 2019 has been embroiled in drama throughout – particularly off the field – but the former Proteas Test wicket-keeper is hoping that with the steady progression of the national team on the field over the past few months that the cricket once again returns to take centre stage.

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“I hope so. It has been tough. It’s been tough on this team. I know that we are finding the headlines for the wrong reasons, and hopefully albeit we are out of World Cup, I think there were some great positives to take from this, the way that the guys played, the passion that they showed, the energy as a team. The guys have been really close behind closed doors, and you can see it just the way they are playing,” he said.

The Proteas next immediate assignment is a three-match ODI series against the Netherlands, scheduled for November 26, 28 and December 1, which all will be played at SuperSport Park in Centurion.

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