Mark Boucher, the heartbeat of the South African team from the late 1990s to 2012, is hoping the experience and wisdom gained from all those years of playing and inspiring the changeroom will rub off on the new career of coach that he has chosen for himself, with the 39-year-old set to land the job as the new Titans mentor.
Boucher’s stellar career, in which he played 147 Tests and 295 ODIs and took the most dismissals in Test history, was ended on the 2012 tour of England when he suffered a serious eye injury after being hit by a bail in a warm-up game.
Since then Boucher has become a leading figure in rhino conservation and is with the Proteas squad in Durban at the moment, working as a consultant for the Test series against New Zealand. The Titans coaching job is the best-paid franchise post in the country and the Centurion-based team won two of the three domestic trophies on offer last season, so the famously nuggety cricketer has landed a high-profile role at the start of his coaching career.
‘I always said I would take five or six years off from the game and it’s been five years now so I’m ready to get involved again. I’m not sure where it’s going to take me, but I’ve always enjoyed imparting knowledge,” Boucher said this week when asked about his invitation to join the Proteas coaching staff.
“I’ve been through quite a few coaches and teams and cultures in my career, and also eras, I was part of the old Proteas team as well as the new. So the lessons I’ve learnt I’d be stupid not to use. I don’t really like the term ‘coach’, I’d like to be more of a man-manager. The game has changed and you see specialist coaches come in more these days,” Boucher said.
Although Boucher’s tenacity and competitiveness were his most famous attributes, he said he was also a student of the technical side of the game and would certainly bring that into his coaching.
“Even though people think of me more on the mental side, you pick up a few things behind the stumps, it provides a very good view. But I always used to sit behind the computer a lot too and look at opposing batsmen, I got a lot of knowledge that way, looking at head and hip positions because you’re trying to get these batsmen out.
“Being brought up in Border, where we didn’t have the best sides, you just had to make it work. Not every player in a team is going to have the technique of a Kallis or De Villiers, but that doesn’t mean he’s not a good player. You have to make do with what you’ve got, you can be technically sound but be lacking mentally, while someone like Graeme Smith didn’t have the greatest technique, but he had a very strong head,” Boucher pointed out.
Titans CEO Jacques Faul was unable to confirm Boucher’s appointment.
“The process has been completed and we have appointed a candidate that we feel can take the team forward and we will announce his name on Monday. Unfortunately we cannot speculate before that,” Faul said.