SA coach Boucher bemoans mental frailties after Pakistan series loss

Mark Boucher blames an inability to drive home its advantage in key moments of the second Test for South Africa’s series loss to Pakistan.

Mark Boucher (right) and Quinton de Kock at a practice session in Rawalpindi, on February 1, 2021. - AP

South Africa coach Mark Boucher blamed mental fragility and an inability to drive home its advantage in key moments of the second Test for the side’s series loss to Pakistan that centred around now all too familiar batting collapses.

South Africa was defeated by 95 runs in Rawalpindi on Monday to lose the two-match series 2-0.

Chasing a daunting 370 for victory, it was well-placed just after lunch on the fifth day on 241 for three with two set batsmen, but lost its last seven wickets for the addition of only 33 runs.

“The way we played in big moments really cost us,” Boucher told reporters. “Our match awareness of when to tighten the screws was lacking. That is the reason why we lost the game. We didn’t bat well, didn’t field well but our bowling stood out. We created opportunities (in the field), we just didn’t take them. That cost us, in this game alone, about 150 runs.”

'Mental'

Boucher feels there was a hangover from heavy series defeats in India and Sri Lanka in recent years that created anxiety within the team when cool heads were needed. “I think it’s more mental. There’s lots of scars from past tours to the sub-continent. Some guys who have had technical issues in the past, like Aiden Markram, spent time at the crease and was able to fight his way through it. It’s more mental than anything else.

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“It’s stupid ways to get out in really important moments of the game.”

South Africa has no Test series for the foreseeable future after Australia pulled out of a planned tour of the country in March-April citing fears over the COVID-19 pandemic, despite Cricket South Africa agreeing to all its safety demands.

“It will be good to get some four-day games in the domestic competition and get everyone playing,” Boucher said, looking for a silver lining.

“That’s where the guys get some good confidence and match awareness gets highlighted.”

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