CAPE TOWN, South Africa (AP) — Mark Boucher couldn’t do it in his long playing career. Maybe as a coach?
Boucher will say goodbye as South Africa manager after the Twenty20 World Cup, giving him one last chance to help end a 30-year curse for the Proteas in major limited tournaments.
South Africa have never won a World Cup of any kind, 50+ or 20+, and hopes of a big win this time in Australia are modest after Proteas suffered setbacks in their preparation.
Captain Temba Bavuma is under pressure for his place, Rassie van der Dussen and Dwaine Pretorius are injured, and heavy hitter David Miller can’t do it all alone.
South Africa enter the tournament following a 2-1 series loss in India and the Proteas are a bit far from the best in the world.
They never got past the semi-finals in the World Twenty20 and reached the last four in 2014. The Proteas are in Group 2 with India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and two others who have qualified.
OUT OF THE MOUTH
Boucher has already announced that he will be stepping down after the T20 World Cup to take up a new job coaching the Mumba Indians in the IPL.
Boucher’s three years in charge of South Africa have been marked by inconsistent results from his team and a tumultuous relationship with his employers at Cricket South Africa. who were ready to fire him earlier in the year over allegations of racism, only to suddenly drop all charges against him.
Boucher said the accusations were baseless and caused him “considerable pain and anguish.” He promised to end his contract, but the situation has led to an uncomfortable last few months.
The captain’s batting has been a hot topic since he returned from an elbow injury just in time for the T20 World Cup.
Bavuma’s T20 ability has often been under the microscope because he only has a half-century career in the shorter format, and that was against Ireland. None of the South African national T20 teams took him up for auction for the 2023 season in what was seen as humiliating for the national captain. He went 0, 0 and 3 on his return to action in the three-match warm-up series in India, prompting suggestions that Proteas might have a better chance without him.
“Temba Bavuma is our leader and I support him 100%,” Boucher said in response. “There is a lot of talk on social media and I don’t really mind being honest. He is our leader and we have his back on this team.”
MILLER THE SUSPENSE
Miller may be one of the most effective batsmen in T20 cricket with his batting in the middle and late innings, and he delivered another rousing performance in the series in India, when he shot 106 from 47 balls. South Africa still lost that game after Miller had too much to do.
Van der Dussen’s absence due to a broken finger takes away South Africa’s most consistent batsman in the last 12 months and a person with whom Miller combined well. Rilee Rossouw is back after a long absence from the national team and has made a century in India, but also two ducks. Without Van der Dussen, rising star Tristan Stubbs may have more opportunities. There is pressure on Quinton de Kock and Aiden Markram to justify his reputation as one of the best hitters in the world.
Pretorius, who broke his thumb in India, is another troublesome absence, as he was destined to be the first-choice off-roader in Australia.
A PLACE FOR RHYTHM
Fast bowling has always been a South African strength, but as T20 cricket has tended towards spinners being more effective, the Proteas have had to adapt. South Africa have solid swing options in Keshav Maharaj and Tabraiz Shamsi, who previously ranked as the No. 1 bowler in T20.
But South Africa have yet to find the best way to take advantage of their formidable fast bowling combination of Kagiso Rabada, Anrich Nortje and Lungi Ngidi in a T20 environment and in Australia, where getting correct lengths on fast, bounce-packed grounds is crucial.
Squad: Temba Bavuma (captain), Quinton de Kock, Reeza Hendricks, Heinrich Klaasen, Keshav Maharaj, Aiden Markram, David Miller, Lungi Ngidi, Anrich Nortje, Wayne Parnell, Kagiso Rabada, Rilee Rossouw, Tabraiz Shamsi, Tristan Stubbs.
Note: One more player will be added. A replacement for Dwaine Pretorius has yet to be named.
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