PRETORIA (Reuters) - South Africa head coach Mark Boucher is working to instil a new mindset and work ethic in the side ahead of the first test against England in Pretoria starting on Boxing Day, admitting his team is short on confidence.
South Africa have lost their last five tests, including two shock home losses to Sri Lanka and three heavy defeats in India, but the arrival of Boucher and an army of experienced technical team members has the potential to change their fortunes.
“One thing I know about South Africans, they are resilient,” Boucher told reporters on Friday. “They have got that bouncebackability and we need to get that into the heads of the players.
“It’s been very good so far, we have pushed the guys a bit. We have spoken about being open to a few changes, and the guys are really keen to turn around the whole view of South African cricket.
“They came in with a really good attitude and ready for a few challenges that we put to them.”
Batting consultant Jacques Kallis will compliment Boucher and assistant coach Enoch Nkwe, while Charl Langeveldt has been drafted in as bowling coach and Paul Harris will work with the spinners.
“Having Jacques, he is the most capped test player in this country and probably the greatest cricketer that has ever lived, so that is invaluable experience,” Boucher added.
“It’s like preparing for an exam, if you prepare well then you walk into the exam feeling confident.
“We’ve had some good chats. It has been very focused on this particular series against the English. I am very happy where we are as we built towards the first test.”
South Africa have yet to gain any points in the new Test Championship, but Boucher says that is far from his mind. All he is focused on is the first session of the opening test in the four-match series.
“We are not even thinking of the Test Championship. I am only focused on what is important now and giving guys good direction on where we want to go in that first session of the first test match, the rest will take care of itself.
“We are trying to instil a good work ethic and a good intensity at training, once we do that, we can take that into the middle.”
Reporting by Nick Said, editing by Louise Heavens