Mark Boucher eager to see how South Africa performs under pressure to assess progress

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South Africa defeated West Indies by 158 runs in the second Test on the back of spinner Keshav Maharaj’s 5/36, which included a hat trick, to clinch the series 2-0 on Monday (June 21).

It is South Africa’s first away Tests series win since March 2017.

“It’s not a relief. There’s been a lot of hard work that’s been done behind the scenes,” Boucher was quoted as saying by ‘ESPNCricinfo’.

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“We were working on quite a few technical things and upskilling our players. We understood the necessity of us performing for the Proteas badge and the guys pulled through and played as a strong team,” he added.

West Indies vs South Africa 2nd Test: Hat-trick for Maharaj as SA whitewash Windies

Regarded as one of the best wicket-keeper batsmen of all time, Boucher said the team needs to perform under pressure situation.

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“I am looking forward to the time where we get put under pressure and to see how we respond as a unit. That’s where we can judge where we really are.”

Once a formidable force, South Africa had slipped to the seventh spot in the ICC Test rankings.

After series defeats against England and Pakistan, opener Dean Elgar took over the Test captaincy from Quinton de Kock.

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“The new captain asked a couple of questions about where we are and where we are going and where we want to be. Quite a few honest chats came out there as they do around a South African fire at night.

“The guys all really bought into a process that he wanted to align his reign with. That’s where we all stood back and said we are either on the bus or not on the bus. Thankfully everyone decided they were on the bus. And it doesn’t only work when you are on the field.

“A lot of effort has to be put in behind closed doors in the way we train, the way we talk, the language, the confidence. That is probably where it started. At that fire,” Boucher said.

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Ahead of the series, Elgar had called for a return to the “South African” way of playing cricket, which is punctuated by consistent performances, big centuries and five-wicket hauls and the team complied.

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“Dean might say its boring, we say it’s disciplined cricket. The language he has been speaking is resonating with the players, so good on him for bringing that sort of language,” Boucher said.

“This is what Test cricket is all about – being able to absorb pressure in certain stages and then being able to apply. Guys are becoming smarter at choosing those moments.”

South Africa responded well to the unfamiliar conditions, considering none of the players had played a series in the Caribbean.

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“When you have got a young team, the best place for them to learn to play cricket is in foreign conditions. This is how you develop players, in different conditions, and this is how they learn about their games and the slight little adjustments that can make them into world class players.”

“It’s important that we understand there is a process, a long process that you have to keep working at,” Boucher said.

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