December 30, 2019 / 7:11 AM / 2 months ago

New South Africa coach Boucher savours winning start

PRETORIA(Reuters) - South Africa coach Mark Boucher said winning his first test match in charge was as good as the many victories he enjoyed as a player after his maiden triumph against England on Sunday.

Cricket - South Africa v England - First Test - Supersport Park, Centurion, South Africa - December 29, 2019 South Africa's Dwaine Pretorius celebrates takes a catch to dismiss England's Jos Buttler with teammates, off the bowling of Kagiso Rabada REUTERS/Rogan Ward

The 107-run victory in the first test at Centurion Park came a fortnight after Boucher, 43, was appointed to the post after a shake-up of Cricket South Africa’s structures at the start of the month.

“I’ve played quite a few test matches and we won a couple of good ones but certainly this is up there, especially from where we have come,” he said.

“It has been a hectic two weeks, we’ve put in a lot of hard work as a coaching staff, so this is a reward.

“I’m also very happy for the players and the way they approached it,” Boucher added.

“We said before we wanted to instil some confidence back in the players and to see them walk off the field with a win you can see now there is a belief that we can win test matches against very good teams.”

Boucher took over the domestic Titans franchise in 2016 and within a year was named Coach of the Year. He now has a contract with South Africa until 2023.

“We understand there is a long way to go,” he said. “We’ve got a couple of youngsters we need to impart knowledge to and speed up the process of becoming experienced cricketers and we’ll certainly do that.”

Boucher, one of the world’s best wicketkeepers, had his playing career ended in horrific fashion in a freak incident in Taunton in 2012 where he got hit by a ball in the left eye, losing his lens, iris and pupil.

It brought a premature end to a 147-test career in which he took a world record 999 dismissals in all forms of cricket so to return to the South Africa dressing room was a thrill.

“I’ve been out of international cricket for quite some time now so it’s an honour for me to walk back into that changing room and be part of hopefully a change in South African cricket,” he said.

“There’s been quite a few changes but the spirit and passion is still there. I’m looking forward to the challenge and working hard with the guys and seeing them develop,” Boucher added.

Editing by Ken Ferris

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