Thu, 04 Mar 2021

  • The Proteas will keep their hunt for a permanent Test captain relatively relaxed, provided that Quinton de Kock doesn't become overburdened.
  • Mark Boucher says his dealings with De Kock are honest and open and that he expects the star to discuss any reservations he might have in future.
  • While picking a long-term candidate is more complex, Boucher admits that the process is essentially about finding a player that's assured of his place and shows appropriate leadership.

The Proteas team management are comfortable enough to keep their quest for a long-term candidate for the Test captaincy a steady one, provided that they don't overburden Quinton de Kock, the temporary incumbent.

The 28-year-old stalwart, who is already the full-time skipper in the white-ball formats, was installed in that capacity last month due to what is perceived as a current lack of viable alternatives.

De Kock began on a good note with the 2-0 whitewashing of Sri Lanka earlier this month but has maintained that he only wants to be a stop-gap option.

"At this stage, we're happy with Quinny to continue (as Test captain) as long as it doesn't become too much for him," Mark Boucher, the Proteas' head coach, said on Thursday ahead of the national side's departure for Pakistan, where they'll play two Tests and three T20s.

"Otherwise we'll make a call and chat with him and perhaps change that (arrangement)."

The dynamic left-handed stroke-maker and wicketkeeper was outstanding with the gloves and pragmatic as tactician against the Sri Lankans though his batting didn't fire.

"I'm happy with him," said Boucher.

"He's been very open and honest with us. If (the Test captaincy) does start affecting him, he'll open his mouth and come to me and tell me if he's comfortable or uncomfortable with something."

Without underestimating the magnitude of the issue, Boucher and co are trying to keep the process of identifying a permanent appointee relatively simple.

"It's a work in progress," he said.

"We've had a very unsettled Test team, guys still trying to find their feet and I know the difficulty of being a Test captain. It's not as simple as just rocking up and saying: 'Fine, I'll do the job.'

"There are a lot of other stuff that goes with it - criticism, praise, press conference, all those types of things. Certain individuals don't enjoy doing that."

But the most important consideration for Boucher, at least, is something far more obvious.

"For me, you've got to keep your place in the team. There's nothing worse than rocking up as a captain and suddenly people talk of dropping you," he said.

"The big thing for me is waiting for one or two individuals to step up and cement their places in the team, have a look at those individuals' leadership qualities and decide whether he's the guy to run with this team for the next period of time.

"They won't have that extra stress of performing as well as being a leader then."

By that definition, wily opener Dean Elgar should be a shoo-in as he possesses decent captaincy experience, while his Man-of-the-Series award against Sri Lanka once again illustrated that he's close to being indispensable to the Proteas' Test squad.

However, South Africa will also need to make provision for the possibility that other candidates - who aren't immediately apparent as options - might take their game to new heights because of being given added responsibility.

"Certain guys, when you give them leadership, do respond well and it naturally takes some pressure off of them and they perform well," said Boucher.

"So, we're sort of encouraging a lot of leaders within the group to come through. You'll see on the field there's a large group or core of players that do a lot of talking.

"We're waiting for one or two to step up."

The Proteas travel to Pakistan on Friday, with the first Test commencing on 26 January.

Source: News24

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