Boucher full of praise for veteran Elgar, rookies Sipamla and Mulder

Wiaan Mulder of South Africa celebrates with teammates during day three of the second Test against Sri Lanka at the Wanderers on Tuesday. Mulder was one of the finds of the two-match series. Picture: Getty Images

“To see the bowlers’ growth makes me happy, if you compare them from that first innings at Centurion to how well they bowled here.”

Mark Boucher conceded on Tuesday that his first series win as South Africa coach had come in their own conditions at home, but he was nevertheless pleased with several features of the Proteas’ play as they wrapped up a 2-0 triumph over Sri Lanka with an emphatic 10-wicket win in the second Test at the Wanderers.

“It was good to get the win, albeit in home conditions. But it was nice to see the batsmen spend some time in the middle and get some confidence back, and hopefully we can now build on that momentum in Pakistan,” said Boucher on Tuesday.

“We will keep working on the technical stuff but the players were quite solid on tough pitches. It was important for them to keep their intensity up and have a positive mindset.

“The bowlers have only played a handful of games between them, but they have lots of potential and they learnt pretty quickly. To see their growth makes me happy, if you compare them from that first innings at Centurion to how well they bowled here. They are a young group of bowlers and we just want them to keep it simple and try and get the best out of the conditions.”

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While opening batsman Dean Elgar was the obvious choice for the man of the series award, scoring 253 runs at an average of 126.50, Boucher said the performances of rookies Wiaan Mulder and Lutho Sipamla were the other big positives of the rubber.

Mulder played a useful innings of 36 in the first Test at Centurion, while his skilful work with the ball – taking nine wickets at 20.55 – was brilliant and brought crucial balance to the attack. Fast bowler Sipamla topped the bowling averages for the series with 10 wickets at 16.70.

“I’m very happy to have Dean in such good form, he was nice and aggressive and technically I’m very happy with where he is too,” said Boucher. “He was able to score runs in tough conditions.

“We didn’t really see the batting side of Wiaan, but he is a very good batsman who could go into the top six. But he was fantastic for us with the ball, he’s there to make breakthroughs and it’s great to have that all-round option.

“Wiaan is still very young (22) but the talent is obviously there. And he has a great attitude, he’s so keen to learn and hopefully he can now stay on the park because I see a great future for him.

“One couldn’t judge Lutho on his first day in Test cricket because he had so many nerves. But he’s also very young (also 22) and he would never have felt that intensity of nerves ever before. But it showed Test cricket means so much to him, which is a good sign. He still needs to work on his lines and lengths, but he was definitely one of the positives.

“He learnt a helluva lot in this series, maybe he was a bit guilty of searching for wickets yesterday (Monday), trying to get some swing, and not hitting the deck hard, but today (Tuesday) he had decent pace and asked lots of questions,” Boucher said.

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