October 4, 2022
Big hole in coaching staff after Mark Boucher exit after crucial stint

It was always going to be messy.

From the day Mark Boucher was appointed the national men’s head coach by his former captain and friend Graeme Smith, his tenure was tainted with allegations of favoritism. He was, despite his status as one of the country’s most celebrated cricketers and later, a successful coach. Now, as Boucher walks away from the job he did with varying degrees of success and an IPL franchise, he remains a key figure in South African cricket.
This is not a simple story as there is nothing simple about South Africa and its institutions. You’ve heard it before (sorry) but it’s hard to avoid filtering anything in South African society through the prism of race. This is why, when analyzing Boucher Koch, we have to consider that he is white and male and was born in South Africa (1976) at a time when those two were the most important things. He went to an elite school which emphasized sports he was good at. They were selected for age-group level teams, climbed the ranks and became best wicketkeeper in south africa In his best Test team under the captaincy of Smith.
Throughout, the Boucher was known for being a bulldog: aggressive looking, fast, flexible, and fiercely loyal. To his teammates, he was the glue that held them together. For fans, he was respected, though not loved, by someone like AB de Villiers. When his career ended in a strange injury in Taunton, there was sympathetic, but not public, sadness. When he re-emerged as a coach, he seemed right at home. Boucher won five trophies in three seasons with the Titans and there was talk that he might one day lead the national team.
But Boucher was not really one of the candidates to replace Ottis Gibson after the 2019 World Cup as Cricket South Africa (CSA) didn’t even know what they wanted to do. At the time, the CSA was being run by Thabang Moro – not particularly well. They chose Enoch Nkewe, who completed his first season in the Lions franchise, where he won two of the three tournaments as well as the inaugural Mzansi Super League. He was also the first black African to be appointed as the head coach of South Africa. Nkwe took South Africa to India where they lost the Test series 3–0.
By the time Boucher took over, Smith (white and male) had been appointed as director of cricket and Jacques Faul (white and male) was interim CEO (Moro was fired for misconduct) – it was eventually called ” white takeover”. of board.

You can certainly conclude that the appointment of two white men should be less relevant than the fact that they were the two best names in South African cricket, and you wouldn’t be wrong. But with the resurgence of the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement, Smith and Boucher were to be judged not only by their pedigree but by their whiteness.

And in Nkwe, Boucher replaced someone who was black and more qualified. Nkwe did not have Boucher’s international career, so he upskilled with a Level 4 certificate. Boucher decided not to bother going beyond Level 2 (given to all former international players), partly because CSA had asked him to lecture on the same Level 3 curriculum he was planning to do. was. As a small taste of the struggles to come, he was a spicy one.

Boucher debuted as head coach in December 2019 to some outrage and relief. He admitted that the South African players were lagging behind technically. He was accompanied by a diverse coaching staff, made up of Charl Langevelt, Justin Ontong, and later Justin Sammons. He recruited mentors such as Jacques Kallis and Paul Harris (two other stalwarts of South Africa’s golden age who would face criticism for their whiteness) and then Neil Mackenzie and Vincent Barnes.

Collectively, that expertise has led South Africa to four of eight Test series wins, two of eight ODI series wins and five of 12 T20I series wins. Overall, under Boucher, South Africa won the same number of series they lost across formats – 11 – but his tenure would not be judged by numbers or race alone.

Boucher faced more off-field issues than most coaches, most notably the resurgence of BLM and the COVID-19 pandemic. The former prompted CSA to launch social justice and nation-building hearings, of which Boucher didn’t come out very well, especially after he dropped out as one of the players in Paul Adams’ damning testimony. CSA was forced to take action by sacking Boucher as coach and opening the door to those unhappy with the manner in which Boucher was appointed.
By the time the charges were dropped, Boucher’s relationship with the board had been damaged. This prompted an avalanche of very public, very polarized opinion about Boucher: the team backed him (Test captain Dean Elgar often spoke about the unfairness of his criticism of the coaching staff) and it seemed that his improving under; Others could not see a future for someone who accepted racially discriminatory behavior. There was no middle ground.

Does this all sound tedious? it must have been.

It couldn’t have been easier for Boucher. And although Boucher knew his past behavior was wrong and apologized in a written affidavit, he never appeared at SJN. Without hearing whether he would have known and apologizing, we will never know. As he turned to the experience, we can judge from the current team that speaks volumes about an inclusive culture that accommodates all. At the same time, South Africa is facing its racial issues openly and honestly.
After that, there was some cricket. Boucher was in charge of a team that had the same problems he had when he started out: the batting was fragile and he was not being given the support he needed.
South Africa’s home teams now play fewer first-class games than they did two summers ago and the new SA20 will squeeze it further. The South African national team will play fewer Tests in the next FTP. They cannot automatically qualify for the 2023 World Cup and instead of supporting their chance of getting there, their own board withdrew them from matches that could assist them in qualification, so that the South Africa needs to create a window for SA20. to be successful. Essentially, Boucher works for an organization that has had to give up the international sport in which he has made a name for himself, being offered a coaching role for a lucrative league. In some complicated way, does it all add up to his decision to leave?

The task is not straightforward for the new head coach, as the need to revive a team in transition is secondary to the inevitability of change. The right candidate should not only be an excellent coach, but he should also understand that providing quality opportunities is not just about coloring by numbers. Foreign coaches, even coaches of color like Gibson, usually struggle with this.

Whoever comes in can’t even be after much money. CSA is not short of cash and their head coach’s salary will not match the amount available in the IPL or county scenario. Boucher himself will earn more from his SA20 stint of a few weeks than a full year as national head coach.

The CSA may also knock on the doors of some former office bearers. Gary Kirsten, Russell Domingo, Graham Ford, one of Adi Birrell (who served as Domingo’s assistant) may be inducted into the interim position while CSA works on the process of finding someone else permanent.

One thing is for sure: this time they will try to do it the right way. Jobs will be advertised, candidates will be interviewed, t crosses will be made and I have been prepared to escape the chaos that tarnished Boucher’s tenure. Because they can’t go through another mess like this.

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