Proteas team director Mark Boucher opens up about Covid-19 scare

Mark Boucher is hopeful that his charges will put in a good show despite not playing together as a unit for eight months.
Mark Boucher is hopeful that his charges will put in a good show despite not playing together as a unit for eight months.
Image: Samuel Shivambu/BackpagePix

How close have the Proteas been affected by Covid-19?

Well‚ their team director Mark Boucher had actually tested positive for the dangerous virus.

Boucher revealed in a virtual press conference on Thursday that he was one of the lucky ones who survived‚ but it also gave him a grim view into what was happening around the country.

“I was one of the lucky ones. I didn’t even know that I had it. I was training for a few big runs during our off-season.

"When I did find out that I had it‚ I felt a little bit down for one or two days.

"I was throwing to the guys in the nets and my body was aching and paining a bit and I thought it was because I haven’t thrown balls for so long.

“I’m thankful I didn’t get a bad dose of it as it lasted for two to three days and it was done.

"Hopefully that happens to a few people who do get it. It is quite sad when people get it to the extent where they lose their lives.

"That’s why I keep saying that Covid-19 is bigger than sport and that we have to look after the person who has it‚ rather than thinking about a sports team.”

While all eyes are shaping towards next week’s limited overs engagements against England‚ the Proteas had one player who tested positive while there were two close contacts.

Boucher didn’t reveal the player‚ or the two contacts‚ but said the team had the responsibility to be caring and help to nurse their team-mate back to proper mental health as matters around them are far bigger than the game

“There’s a bigger picture to this. We’re happy to be back playing cricket. We’ve prepared for this very real situation and the situation does affect us‚ but it’s more about the welfare of the players.

"It’s a tough thing to go through and I went through it as well. The care factor needs to be there because they’re going to be sitting in their rooms for six/seven days and for up to 10 days alone is quite tough‚” Boucher said.

“When they hopefully do come out of it‚ on the right side of it‚ they come back into this environment and they feel like nothing has been lost.”

The Proteas are seemingly also happy to take up a social responsibility call and support nation-building initiatives as and when they come from the government.

With the world having significantly changed around them since the last time they played in March this year‚ and with the Black Lives Matter movement and Covid-19 dominating public and private discourses‚ Boucher said it was important that they lived the changes that have taken place around them.

“There are a couple of other issues that our president has raised with regards to Gender Based Violence and Covid-19 victims where we will be flying our flag at half-mast.

"We will be addressing this with the team‚ so if there’s a black armband‚ we’ll probably be wearing it because of the president’s call.

"The flying of the flag is on November 25‚ not on the day of the game‚ but if the players agree to it and want to wear a black armband for Covid-19 sufferers and GBV sufferers‚ then they will‚” Boucher said.

“It’s not something that you have to show‚ but something you have to live.

"That’s something we’re trying to do in the dressing room. If the guys feel that we have to do more‚ then they’ll be allowed to express their opinions.

"Our new value system is about respect‚ empathy and belonging.

"They’ll lead to a free environment where guys are able to talk about these hard issues and they’ve got support from everyone in the unit.”


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