The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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UCB move didn’t hurt: Mark

Dhaka: Stripped of the vice-captaincy as a fallout of South Africa’s World Cup debacle, wicketkeeper Mark Boucher says the decision did not really hurt him and believes that it would help him to concentrate on his game with a “free mind”.

The 26-year-old Boucher, a senior member in the relatively young South African squad, says the selectors had their own way of thinking for re-building the team and he is happy to play whatever role that is assigned to him.

“The decision to remove me from vice-captaincy did not hurt me. My role has actually not changed much. As a senior, I will keep guiding the youngsters and do whatever I can do for the team,” Boucher said.

“The selectors obviously feel that the way to move forward is to have a new vice-captain. It’s okay with me. We are in a transition phase and we all have to work together for the team’s cause,” he said.

“I had been there as vice-captain for a pretty long time and have experienced it all,” he said.

Boucher, who has been a regular member of the team since his one-day debut against New Zealand at Perth in 1997-98, said it was imperative for the younger members to learn fast and cricket fans in the country had to be a patient as the re-building process could take some time.

“South African cricket has a long way to go. It is not easy to find replacements for so many class senior players. People have to be patient and wait for the team to settle down,” he said.

Boucher, who has a one-day aggregate of 1864 runs in 145 matches (100 innings) at an average of 24.85, is seen as a talented batsman but has not got many opportunities to showcase his batting talent in the shorter version of the game which has seen him effect 215 dismissals behind the stumps.

He now feels that his batting could be crucial in the lower middle-order for the new-look team. “There is a lot of inexperience in the batting line-up so I need to work very hard on my batting as well,” he said.

Boucher said South Africa’s World Cup disaster was a thing of the past and the side has shown a very good team spirit and was keen to make amends. “We have a very good team spirit though we lack the experience to some extent”.

Asked whether he was surprised that Graeme Smith, who was not even in the original World Cup squad, was appointed captain, Boucher said “Smith has all the qualities required for a captain. It is not a problem playing under him.”

Boucher confessed that he had told the selectors a long time back that he was not interested in the captaincy as it would have put a lot of additional pressure on him since he also had to do the wicket-keeping.

Dwelling on the World Cup, Boucher said the hype and the high expectations of playing at home took a heavy toll on the team. “Every game seemed to be like a final. The expectations of playing at home were simply too much and it put enormous pressure on the players.”

“Somehow the enjoyment was not there. We were not playing the normal way. I think that played a big role in our early exit,” Boucher said.

Referring to the crucial match against Sri Lanka which sealed South Africa’s fate, Boucher said “I got a message that we needed to score 229. After we reached that figure, I just did not want to get out in the last ball as it could have been a disadvantage to us under the Duckworth-Lewis method.

“But when I came to know that we needed one more run, I was completely devastated. But we had tried our best”.

On his dropping the vital catch of Stephen Fleming in the match against New Zealand which South Africa lost, he said “everybody make mistakes. I have tried to play to the best of my ability for my country. No one drops catches on purpose.” (PTI)

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