South Africa remains a team in transition, as some of the players said afterwards, but this was a crucial victory for head coach Mark Boucher and captain Temba Bavuma.
MARK Boucher believes South Africa gradually played smarter cricket over the course of the T20 International series against the West Indies to earn an unexpected triumph, which he explained provided a crucial confidence booster just four months before the T20 World Cup.
South Africa won the fifth T20 International by 25 runs in Grenada on Saturday to claim a 3-2 series win against the current T20 World Cup holders, who are also viewed as one of the favourites for this year’s competition.
South Africa remains a team in transition, as some of the players said afterwards, but this was a crucial victory for head coach Boucher and captain Temba Bavuma.
“There are still places we can improve, but the confidence we can take from this against a really good T20 unit, with a lot of experience, in these conditions, with some big hitters, is going to be immense for us,” said Boucher.
Since taking over as Proteas coach in December 2019, Boucher has overseen defeats in five T20 series, four of them on home soil. This was his and Bavuma’s first series victory.
Boucher has copped a lot of criticism for those results, but on Saturday brushed off any talk that he was feeling pressure and instead chose to praise the players for putting in place plans that had been drawn up at numerous team meetings.
“These conditions are not the same as we’re used to in South Africa, where you can make 180 to 200 runs,” Boucher said.
“You have to be skilful here, smart … we took the lessons from the meetings we had after every game, and we were a bit smarter. We’ve got to get guys playing a lot smarter and we saw that in our bowling today.
“That comes from a lot of chats behind closed doors and different options that we are giving the players and it shows that if they listen and put the ball in the right area, and they are nice and smart we can win close games of cricket which we haven’t been doing a lot of in the recent past,” Boucher added.
The West Indies have a galaxy of T20 stars, who all ply their trade in the most lucrative leagues around the world, but South Africa, with only a couple of players in the current squad who have IPL contracts – boxed clever and although they didn’t put up massive totals – in fact they failed to breach 170 even once in the series – they used other elements in their armour to apply pressure to the West Indies.
“The West Indies played their brand of cricket and we played our brand; the guys bought into that. At times you wondered why the guys couldn’t score at the back-end but their bowlers at the back end were very skilful,” said Boucher.
“We were very skilful in the middle overs with our spinners. You have to find a way to win, which is exactly what we did. What makes this series win so special is that we were smart in the way we went about things.”
South Africa journey to Ireland on Sunday, where they will play three ODIs and three T20Is starting next week. Boucher views that trip as an opportunity to get some players back into form.
“There’s a couple of guys out of form. If you are winning series’ against a team like that with some guys out of form then you must be doing something right,” he remarked.
“We need to get some guys in form, and maybe there is an opportunity in this next series (against Ireland) so that we can finish off innings better.”