Cape Town: New South Africa head coach Mark Boucher is confident he can turn around the fortunes of the country’s ailing Test team and has warned England they will not roll over in the upcoming four-Test series starting on Boxing Day.
South Africa have lost their last five Tests, two shock home defeats to Sri Lanka and three thrashings in India.
Former wicketkeeper Boucher, a veteran of 147 Tests and the world record holder with 999 international dismissals across all formats, was unveiled as the new coach on Saturday.
“I’ve been involved in sides over the years where we have had some tough times. One of the toughest times was the Hansie Cronje saga (in 2000) and straight after that we beat Australia,” Boucher told reporters.
“I think we’ve got a good chance of turning it around. Sport is an amazing thing, it can be turned around in a couple of days but I understand there is a lot of work to be done.
“They’ve (England) been saying quite a few things in the media but I’ve got one thing to say to them: Beware a wounded buffalo, especially in Africa.”
Boucher was appointed by South Africa’s new director of cricket Graeme Smith, the most successful Test captain in history.
Another former five-day veteran, Ashwell Prince, has been appointed South Africa A coach while bowling and batting consultants will be named in the coming week.
“Our confidence is a bit down, but there’s a wealth of knowledge in this country that can get utilized,” Boucher said.
“We need to get as much information going in the right direction and give the players the space to try and perform at their best.
“We’ve got the talent in this country. It needs to be nurtured a bit and given the opportunities for information to come through.”
Boucher also said he was open to having a discussion with the retired AB de Villiers about a return to international cricket for the Twenty20 World Cup in Australia next year.
“When you go to a World Cup you want your best players playing for you. Why wouldn’t I want to have a conversation with him?” he said.
“I might have conversations with quite a few players and see where they are.”
The first Test against England starts in Pretoria on Boxing Day, followed by three more in Cape Town, Port Elizabeth and Johannesburg.
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The South Africa squad, which includes 21 players, underwent their first COVID-19 tests soon after landing in the country's financial capital on Saturday morning and according to their media manager, all the reports came negative.
Pakistan selectors had initially announced 20 players for the two-Test series but trimmed the squad to 17 for the first Test at the National Stadium in Karachi.
Baartman had received a maiden Test call-up for South Africa but was left out due to a medical reason unrelated to COVID-19.