“We are putting new fitness clauses in contracts so you need to be fit.”
CAPE TOWN – Proteas coach Mark Boucher has warned his players that the lockdown the country is currently experiencing due to the coronavirus outbreak will not be an excuse for a lack of fitness.
Boucher stressed yesterday that while “we were always going to be having a break at this time”, it remains the players’ responsibility to maintain their fitness levels.
The former Proteas wicket-keeper has placed a heavy emphasis on fitness since taking over in December, with a group of players being sent to high performance conditioning camp at the Centre of Excellence in Pretoria in January. Experienced sport scientist and former Proteas Strength and Conditioning coach Adrian le Roux oversaw the camp for a week.
“We have put in some programs with regards to keeping fit and strong around your household,” Boucher said. “We are putting new fitness clauses in contracts so you need to be fit.”
Unlike many other sports, COVID-19 has not had a major impact on the Proteas in terms of losing out on a lot of matches. The Proteas were able to complete their home international season against England and Australia, with only two ODI’s of their Indian tour cancelled.
This has allowed Boucher to fully assess the progress his charges have made under his stewardship. England defeated the Proteas 3-1 in the Test series, 2-1 in the T20I series and the ODI series was drawn 1-1. The Proteas also lost the T20I series to the Aussies 2-1, but finished strongly with a 3-0 ODI whitewash.
“If I look back over the summer and reflect on the team’s performances and progress, especially against England and Australia, I think it was quite disappointing to be honest,” he said frankly.
A lot of work to do
“Especially against England, we didn’t perform like we wanted to perform. In saying that I think we, as a new coaching staff, we asked some questions and I think we got some answers. Some were good and some were bad.
“The nice thing for me about the whole summer was the light at the end of the tunnel, especially in our short formats. I think we have a lot of work to do with our Test cricket still, there’s probably a lot of rebuilding in that respect. We had a couple of injuries as well which didn’t help the cause, but I think the exciting thing for me was more the white-ball cricket and to see the guys grow a bit.”
The performance against Australia in the ODI series certainly was encouraging with the likes of Janneman Malan, Heinrich Klaasen, Anrich Nortjé and Kyle Verreynne showing off their potential. Boucher is therefore hoping that he can keep his coaching staff intact to allow these young players to continue their development. Batting consultant Jacques Kallis and spin-bowling consultant Paul Harris’ short-term contracts have run their course.
“I’m not too sure what will happen with them (Kallis and Harris), but hopefully something can be sorted out contractually because we would be stupid not to make use of their experience,” Boucher said before expanding on the valuable contributions of his full-time support staff.
“Langers (Charl Langeveldt, bowling coach) has been brilliant and although (Justin) Ontong has been the fielding coach‚ he adds a lot of value in the batting department. He’s also played international cricket and it would be stupid not to use him in other disciplines.
“Enoch (Nkwe, assistant coach) and I have had some great conversations. We understand each other nicely at the moment.
“Our heads are in the right places. We complement each other well. I’ve really enjoyed working with the guys.”