Far from being an environment that alienates anyone, the Proteas camp now has a player-driven culture and everyone has bought into the new captaincy ideas of Dean Elgar, coach Mark Boucher said following the team’s series-clinching win against the West Indies on Monday.
Boucher said the triumph in St Lucia was the result of “a lot of hard work” off the field and some hard chats the team had sitting around the fire in Pretoria on their pre-tour camp.
“When we sat around the fire in Pretoria, the new captain (Elgar) asked some questions about where we are and where we want to go and there were some tough conversations about the necessity of performing for the Proteas badge again,” Boucher said.
“It’s been quite a tough couple of months for certain guys. But the players are now driving the value system they put on the table in our Skukuza culture camp last year, which is why they’re so happy.
“The team have played really well. We have not won away from home for a long time and the belief taken away from that is important. We asked them to play for each other and we’ve seen that, it was really a team effort and we played the big moments very well.
“The best place to learn is in foreign conditions and we learned a lot of lessons in Pakistan. Different conditions are what develop players. The skills have been executed fairly well and I look forward to seeing how we go when we’re put under pressure because then we can judge whether we are really on track.”
The former captain, Quinton de Kock, was the player of the series for his 237 runs at an average of 118, and far from being angry at his demotion, the wicketkeeper/batsman responded with a flurry of runs and was a breath of fresh air in the changeroom as well.
“Quinny’s been through a tough time of late, not scoring the same amount of runs as he’s used to, but he made such an impact on the whole series,” Boucher said.
“While the other batsmen did well to bat time and force the bowlers to come back for third and fourth spells, Quinny has that x-factor that means he can just take the game away from the opposition.
“I’m very happy that he’s in a very good space and he’s been fantastic off the field, funny and lighthearted. And the way he’s kept wicket has been so good too, he’s been very neat and taken some great catches.”