Cricket in South Africa is synonymous with the hot African summer. In fact, nothing says that the summer has arrived like sitting on the grass embankment under the oaks during the Boxing Day test match. The prevailing North Easterly off the Indian Ocean brings with it the chance to cool down but also serves as a reminder that the holidays are indeed here.
Despite how picturesque a setting South Africa can be over December, it doesn’t guarantee that the action on the park will match the serenity off it. All things considered, the 2019/2020 summer series against England has been a disaster for the Proteas after they suffered a 3-1 loss at the hands of an English team that exposed their glaring weaknesses.
The Proteas were outplayed in all departments and sadly so were their fans as the Barmy Army outnumbered and outsang them throughout the four-test series. It certainly was a series to forget with the biggest lesson being that there won’t be any quick fixes for the Proteas under new head coach Mark Boucher.
It looked like there may be after South Africa got off to a rip-roaring start at Centurion and ended up winning the first Test, but that feeling of euphoria quickly evaporated as the weeks went by. Instead, Boucher and his coaching staff have been left to pick up the pieces as they get acquainted with the size of the task at hand, it is no doubt much bigger than they initially expected with South African cricket reeling after years of mismanagement.
There was, however, a lot of goodwill around the appointment of Mark Boucher and that won’t dry up anytime soon with the cricketing public in South Africa convinced that he is the right man to bring back the days when the Proteas dominated world cricket. Boucher’s next challenge will be the T20 World Cup where his side are well behind favourites Australia, who are 11/4 to win in cricket betting. Indeed, at 13/2, no one is too sure what to expect from a South African team that is in a race against time to make up for a disastrous few years off the field of play.
The bottom line is that the T20 World Cup in October could once again be too soon for the Proteas but the nature of T20 cricket may assist a side that has to rely on a bit of luck from time to time. The news that AB de Villiers could return for the playing of the tournament will also be a massive bonus for the country. De Villiers has the ability to win a game on his own and there will be a certain trepidation amongst the opposition if he is indeed on the plane to Australia.
Whilst there won’t be any magic bullet for South African cricket, they are on the right road again after straying into the wilderness some years ago. The right man is in charge and the next time England arrive on South African shores in four years time, they will be sure to face a team that is unrecognisable from the one they just played.