Monday, August 9, 2021

To the couch for Bouch

There is an old saying in Tennessee, I know it's in Texas, probably in Tennessee that says, we will tolerate you until we can replace you. In other words, you ability must exceed your baggage. To be clear, Mark Boucher has been nothing short of an abject failure with the Proteas. Under his leadership, the boys have shown absolutely no fight during times of trouble. The batting line-up has shown the resistance of a wet tissue paper in a storm, and the bowling attack has been, to put it midldly, insipid. There is a large section of the population which will claim that a poor bowling or batting effort does not solely lie at the hands of the coach. After all, these are grown men, and they have their own mentors in their discipline, as well as team-appointed batting and fielding coaches. I don't even disagree with this viewpoint, but Graeme Smith, the erswhile Kingmaker, or coachmaker at the Fawlty Towers known as Cricket South Africa, stated 19 months ago when he hired Boucher as the coach of the national team that he had brought Boucher in to bring an international steel to the national team. In other words, as per the boss himself, having a former international veteran was supposed to cure all ills. So while I personally believe that it is actually stupid to expect a coach to cure all ills, if you set out your own key point indicator, and fail to meet them, well, that's on you. In the ten Tests which South Africa have played since Boucher was made coach, they've won five and lost five. The literal definition of mediocrity. Being bad at Test cricket is one thing. At any time in the history of the game, there generally seems to only be two or three good Test sides with every other side floundering between mediocrity and being actual human garbage. But the limited over stuff have generally acted as good levelling ground, where inferior teams are able to close the gap with planning, homogenized conditions and superior coaching. Well, even there, in the 12 matches Boucher has coached, South Africa have won six out of 12. Which, as we mentioned earlier, is bang average. And finally, in T20, a format where any team can beat any team, South Africa have lost 14 of the 24 T20 internationals they've played under Bouch. This is all to say that there are very legitimate on-the-field reasons to let go of Mark Boucher as the South African cricket coach. Omce these reasons are combined with the off-field dramas which have surrounded his stint, it becomes almost impossible to justify hanging on to him, outside of some pathologically unhealhy desire to stay in 2010 when the Proteas were seen as a quality international side. While there was some dissapointment at the way Enoch Nkwe, fresh from winning a domestic treble, was jettisoned as team director of the national team following the top-down shake-up in December 2019, real eyebrows were raised when Boucher was named coach of the national team on a four-year contract by Graeme Smith. In the modern history of Cricket South Africa, no coach has ever been given a four year contract. Indeed, CSA prefer to having roling two-year deals so as to allow themselves some lattitude when it comes to releasing coaches from their contracts without having to fork an arm and a leg. Despite that, the very first major move Smith made as the Director pf Cricket was to give his good mate a four-year deal. If this happened at governmental level, a huge section of society would have been up in arms. The rules being flouted for a friend of the boss? There's a term for that. Most recently, and arguably more alarming, Boucher has been accused by Paul Adams of having been one of a large number of teammates who called him a brown s#!t. These are very serious accusations, but it's pretty safe to say that in a country where 90% of the population are people of colour, and with a history as fractured and South Africa's, it is almost indefensible to have a sitting head coach be someone with a charge of racial discrimination that serious. Especially when the team's record has floated between mediocre and actually, to bowrrow a term he may have used, s#it.

To the couch for Bouch

There is an old saying in Tennessee, I know it's in Texas, probably in Tennessee that says, we will tolerate you until we can replace ...