Sport

Boucher annoyed with Aus tour delay

Mark Boucher said the postponement of the Australian series will disrupt some of his plans with the national men’s team although it will allow time for a discussion about who will replace Quinton de Kock as Test captain.

Cricket Australia’s decision not to send its side to South Africa for a three match Test series angered Cricket SA, which put in an immense amount of work, to ensure the series took place.

“It’s certainly disappointing. We’ve made a lot of plans,” Boucher said from Rawalpindi on Wednesday where the Proteas wrapped up preparations for the second Test against Pakistan which started yesterday.

“It seems a lot of goal posts were being moved for Australia to tour. There’s probably a feeling that we were laying down the red carpet a bit for Australia, which is frustrating,” he noted.

The South African side had also agreed to move to a different hotel, so that the Australian team could have the Irene Country Lodge – which the Proteas shared with Sri Lanka earlier this season – to themselves.

“The three Tests against Australia were a big part of the summer,” said CSA’s Director of Cricket, Graeme Smith.

“The amount of work that has gone on these last few weeks has been immense. We were putting in place the most stringent (bio-secure environment) that was possible.”

Smith added that when Cricket Australia did inform CSA about postponing the tour, it expressed “fears” about the Covid-19 pandemic – that included concerns about South Africa’s second wave and a new variant first identified by scientists in this country.

“My guess is we will not solve those fears no matter what we put in place,” he indicated.

As matters stand currently, once the Proteas T20 side finishes its series in Pakistan in the middle of February, the Proteas won’t be playing for a month until Pakistan arrive in April for a series of limited overs matches. “We’ll have to take a day or two to regroup, and then look at the March period and what cricket can be played there,” said Smith.

He raised the possibility of moving the Domestic T20 Challenge into that gap, with the competition taking place in a bio-score environment, utilising the country’s top players.

The gap in the calendar provides Boucher and national selection convenor Victor Mpitsang with time to assess who will take over as the Test team’s captain – a job De Kock was doing on a temporary basis this summer and one he always seemed reluctant to do.

“The good side (of the Australian tour being postponed), is that after this tour, we’ve got a bit of time now before our next Test series. We can sit down and make a good solid call about who can take over from him and release him from that burden going forward and then hopefully get the best out of him,” said Boucher.

He acknowledged that being Test captain was “tough on Quinny.” “If you are not scoring runs it gets highlighted especially if you are captain. We are not that harsh on Quinny in this environment. We know he is a quality player and that there is a good innings around the corner for him. He has been given the extra burden of being captain and that can be tough, and something he is not used to.”

De Kock had a generally poor performance in the first Test against Pakistan in Karachi scoring just 17 runs, dropping a catch and making poor use of the review system.

“It’s difficult to just put it all on one person, especially a talent like Quinny. It’s not his fault that we are in the position we’re in, 1-0 down, it was just some very poor cricket on day one,” added Boucher. -IOL