- South African players have been going throgh administrative crisis and allegations of racism.
- The same issue has few big names including head coach Mark Boucher.
The series-winning captain of the just concluded India-South Africa ODI series, Temba Bavuma, opened up after the SA win and revealed that his biggest captaincy challenge has remained in managing the conversations in the change room.
The series win over India was badly needed for South Africa cricket which is going through administrative crisis and allegations of racism have been levelled against a few big names including head coach Mark Boucher.
Speaking to the media after completing whitewash of India in the ODIs, Bavuma said it is still early days for him as captain.
He had taken charge in March last year.
"I don't think it's easy (captaining the team). There are a lot of dynamics that you need to manage. For me, the biggest thing is trying to keep cricket the main focus amongst the guys," Bavuma said on Sunday.
"I hate to bring this up but it's been a challenging period for the team, for the players, for particular members of management.
"There's been a lot of scrutiny surrounding the team and surrounding the organisation, so to manage the conversations happening around the change-room and to ensure our energy is 100 per cent geared towards performing out there, for me, has been the biggest challenge."
South African cricket has been hit by controversy with the team coach and former cricketer Boucher being accused of racism and being charged with 'gross misconduct' in the findings of the Social Justice and Nation Building report.
Bavuma, who scored a century in the opening match of the series and led from the front, said, "it means a lot as a player.
Knowing I contributed to the winning cause makes it better.
"You will always be judged on your record and to convincingly beat an Indian side speaks a lot to my captaincy. But things are still early from a leadership point of view. I will take the positives but I will try very hard not to get ahead of myself," the diminutive right-handed batter said.
Stating that he enjoys the captaincy, the 31-year old Bavuma said, "It seems to have brought the benefit of that showing in my own performances too.
"I enjoy the tactical side of things. There's a lot of thinking involved. And that thinking extends to your own game too. I suppose I'm a bit more clearer in terms of what I want myself to do," he said.
We turned the corner a while ago but needed results to back that up: Mark Boucher
For a team undergoing a prolonged period of transition, South Africa "turned the corner a while ago" but needed a result like that they got against India to bolster belief of the group, feels head coach Mark Boucher.
The administrative crisis, retirement of star players and racism allegations hampered South Africa cricket over the past 24 months.
"We spoke about our journey and not worrying about the series," he said at an online media interaction after South Africa won the third ODI against India by four runs here on Sunday to secure a series whitewash after having won the Test series 2-1 earlier.
"We wanted to win 3-0. We've been through the hard times and only once you've been through the hard times do you really appreciate the good ones.
"We appreciate this, but our feet are firmly planted on the ground. This is just a nice chapter in our continued journey. We have a captain in Tembs (Bavuma) that really is demanding on results and that's good," Boucher added.
The former wicket-keeper batter, who faces a disciplinary hearing into allegations of racism, refused to respond to a question on the lows during his stint as coach and if the success against India during the summer was one of the highlights.
"I think you will appreciate that I can't answer that," Boucher said but chose to dwell on the team's progress.
“The progression has been great. I think we turned the corner a while ago from a team perspective but obviously we needed the results to back it up.
"We tried a few things in Covid times. We had to get a deeper squad. We gave a lot of opportunities to a lot of players and I think we are starting to reap the rewards now," he added.
The coach said he was happy that South Africa had a settled batting order and depth both in the pace and spin bowling departments.
He said that the team is in good spirits.
“If you walk into that change room now the guys are obviously happy that they’ve won the series but their feet are on the ground,” said Boucher.
Boucher said it was great to see wicketkeeper-batter Quinton De Kock back in the team after his sudden decision to quit Tests.
"It was great to see him come out and play the way that we all know Quinny can play; the way that he has been when he's at his best. He's got that sort of freedom about his game.
"You can't have all six of your batters play like that, but you can certainly have one or two. On their day, if they score a hundred, more often than not they're going to win you a game.
"It's great to see 'Quinny' back and smiling again. He's got a daughter now, who he's probably looking forward to getting back to. That puts life into perspective, as a lot of people who are dads will know," Boucher said of De Kock, who scored his sixth ODI ton against India on Sunday.
- With inputs from PTI