'Blame me,' Boucher takes responsibility for Proteas' struggles

Mark Boucher (Gallo)
Mark Boucher (Gallo)

Cape Town - Head coach Mark Boucher says he takes full responsibility for the Proteas' struggles in their ongoing Test series against England.

South Africa will almost certainly go 2-1 down in the series on Monday, unless they are saved by the rain on day five of the third Test at St George's Park. 

On Sunday, the hosts were woeful once again and at stumps they were 102/6 in their second innings, still needing another 188 runs to make England bat again. 

The top order continues to misfire and is a major cause for concern heading into the fourth Test at the Wanderers, but Boucher said now was not the time to start singling out individuals. 

"If you look at the bigger situation, we can't start pointing fingers at the moment. I look at it as a time to self-reflect and at the moment my mind is looking at myself and how I take responsibility," he told media after the day's play on Sunday. 

"Ultimately, I've got to take responsibility for the performance of the team. How do I, mentally and physically, upskill these guys in a short period of time to make them better players? That's what is in my mind presently."

One of the most logical swaps for Wanderers is likely to see struggling No 3 Zubayr Hamza replaced by Temba Bavuma, but Boucher said no decisions have been taken yet. 

"You don't have to be a rocket scientist to know that a couple of our batters are under pressure and they know that as well and are working hard at it," he said.

"It's a situation where if there is someone to leave out, it won't mean that we've forgotten about him. It might just be a lack of form and confidence. We're certainly not throwing anyone away at this stage."

The form of skipper Faf du Plessis has also been worrying for the Proteas and returns of 8 and 36 in this Test will do little to extinguish the questions that are being raised over his future in the format. 

"For me his state of mind is going to be a lot better if he gets out there and scores runs. We all know that he is under pressure in the media and from a confidence point of view," Boucher said of his captain. 

"The positive for me today is that he actually got out there and gave himself a chance to have a look at the conditions and it looked like he had some good rhythm.

"He'll sit back in the changeroom and look at the situation and be disappointed in his performance today and in the Test match, but I'm sure he'll take confidence from being out there in the middle and facing a few balls."

When asked if this was the lowest point of South African cricket since readmission given the struggles of the national side throughout 2019 and now again in 2020, Boucher again said it was his responsibility to put things right.

"That's a big call, but I suppose everyone is entitled to their opinion. I've been in teams where we've been pretty low as well," he said.

"Yes, we're in a particularly bad situation in this game, but we're not out of the series yet. 

"The guys are pretty disappointed in that dressing room, but going forward I need to find a way to upskill the guys mentally and get them ready for tomorrow and the last Test match.

"It's easy to point fingers at this and that and the system, but for me there are no excuses. I need to find a way to get it right."

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