Bullish Boucher backs Bavuma to the hilt, reiterates value: 'He's our leader, simple as that'

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Mark Boucher and Temba Bavuma (Gallo Images)
Mark Boucher and Temba Bavuma (Gallo Images)
Ashley Vlotman/Gallo Images
  • Proteas coach Mark Boucher has steadfastly backed Temba Bavuma as the team's captain in the limited overs formats despite his snubbing in the SA20 auction.
  • He insists a distinction must be drawn between "uncontrollable" T20 leagues and international cricket in terms of determining a player's value.
  • Boucher also pointed out that Bavuma's teammates have rallied around him.

In a rare glimpse of ferocity, Proteas Mark Boucher left little room for doubt over Temba Bavuma's standing in the national team.

The 32-year-old limited overs skipper has endured a tough week after being left unsold at the SA20 players auction, leading to self-admitted feelings of "disappointment" and vociferous debate over whether the franchise erred in not picking him up.

Yet Boucher, known for his forthright manner, emphatically stated that Bavuma is the Proteas' unequivocal leader and valued member, while imploring the broader cricketing community to draw a distinction between T20 leagues and international cricket.

"First of all, I wasn't involved in that, unfortunately. Nor am I involved in any coaching in the tournament," he said on Thursday, on the eve of South Africa's departure for a white-ball tour to India. 

"But one thing that I can say is that leagues come and go. I have full respect for the new T20 league that's been formed. I understand its importance to South African cricket, that it's needed and all that type of stuff.

"However, let's separate the national team from the league. Temba Bavuma is our leader and I back him 100%. Yes, there's a lot of talk in social media and stuff about this and that. I don't care, to be honest with you."

READ | Bavuma admits SA20 snub has left scars on him: 'I feel disappointed and let down'

South Africa's enlarged squad has been in an informal camp for the past two days in Cape Town and immediately rallied around their captain.

"He's our leader and we back him like you can't believe," said Boucher.

"The guys were in each other's company last night, we were having a couple of drinks and I could just see the energy around him because his teammates understand what he's going though. 

"The bottom line is, we've been on a journey for the last two years. He's been a massive part of it. We back him like you can't believe.

"What happens in leagues, you can't control. It is what it is.

"From a Protea perspective, we back him fully going into a massive tournament like the T20 World Cup. As a coach, I back him 100%. Simple as that."

Helping Bavuma and by extension the rest of his teammates maintain the right perspective was a trip to Robben Island, where Boucher hopes some Madiba magic will inspire his charges to new heights.

"I've been there twice already, so it's my third time. We had a helluva guide who's been there for ages, so he gave us amazing insights," said the Proteas mentor.

"I walked around and looked at the players, seeing how they took in the experience. It's all part of our journey, the team culture that we've created. It was eye-opening for a lot of the guys.

"I've got no doubt that that little trip, albeit sometimes quite a simple thing to do, is gonna be far-reaching in further entrenching and building our culture, especially if we're going to be under pressure at a World Cup.

"I think it could have a massive input into our results."

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