ANI Photo | “A fantastic idea, would not be against it”: Boucher on bringing SA20 to India

Former South African wicketkeeper-batter Mark Boucher said that organising a SA20 season or a few friendly/exhibition matches in India in future would be a fantastic idea as “both cricketing nations share a great relationship.”
In an interaction with the media on Friday, Boucher talked about the SA20 league, IPL, Test cricket versus T20 league cricket debate etc.
On hosting SA20 in India, just like the Indian Premier League (IPL) was hosted in South Africa back in 2009, Boucher said, “I think it is a fantastic idea; I am not against it. The IPL happened in South Africa and I was fortunate to play in it. It was fun and successful, and we can do the same, as both cricketing nations share a great relationship. There is a lot of history between our teams.”
“Graeme Smith (SA20 commissioner) is the guy to ask for it. He can make things happen. He will surely look into it to make the brand bigger. There is a lot of respect for each other’s cricket in our nations. We also know how big cricket is in India, like a religion and we also love playing there. Maybe three to four seasons later, we will look into it,” he added.
On the defending champions Sunrisers Eastern Cape captain Aiden Markram, Boucher said that Markram is an intelligent cricketer and he would not be surprised to see him captaining across three formats of the game full-time soon.
“Markram has grown as a cricketer. I love watching him as a player, and talking to him inside the changing room. He is an intelligent cricketer and plays the game in the right spirit. He demands from players around him. No surprise that he led the SEC to success in the first season. I do not think they had the best team, but he managed to get the best out of all the players. He is going to grow from strength to strength in the leadership role and I would not be surprised if he is an all-format captain soon,” he said.
On whether SA20 would be prioritised over other T20 leagues in picking up the ICC T20 World Cup squad, Boucher said that both SA20 and other leagues, most notably the IPL would be looked at.
“IPL is such a good standard of cricket, it is almost international cricket. You have to be a good player to be picked in the IPL. Our is high quality as well and standard is going to get better,” he added.
On the SA20 league clashing with South Africa’s two-Test tour to New Zealand, starting from February 4 onwards, Boucher said that the situation is disappointing and scheduling has to be looked into.
SA20 is taking place from January 10 to February 10 and in the absence of key players who are playing in the league, Cricket South Africa (CSA) announced a largely second-string side, featuring uncapped Neil Brand as a captain. This move attracted criticism from fans and former cricketers alike.
“Dissapointing (the clash between tour and SA20. Something has to be done; we need to get the scheduling right. Our best players are playing in the league (SA20), which is needed for it to be a success,” said Boucher.
“This tournament was on the cards for a long time, so there should have been discussions by CSA with New Zealand to reschedule the tour. Test cricket is the truest format of the game, and you want the best teams playing against each other. The situation could have been dealt with in a better way. It is fully understandable why New Zealand did not cancel it as ICC World Test Championship points are at stake,” he added.
On three youngsters he would like to see in South Africa’s T20 World Cup squad following a great SA20, Boucher named Dewald Brevis, Tristan Stubbs and Matthew Breetzk, all capped players in their early to mid-20s.
Talking about whether 39-year-old veteran Faf Du Plessis, who last played for SA in 2021 in a Test and last played a T20I in 2020, would return for the T20 World Cup, Boucher said that it would be unfair to throw a youngster playing well in the leagues out to get Du Plessis in all of sudden so the batter would have to play some games with Proteas before the tournament.
“If he has a good SA20 league, people are going to talk about it. If you play a player, you cannot bring him all of a sudden. He would need to have 5-10 games with the side for some continuity. It would be unfair to throw someone out of the team despite doing well in the league. Conversations with Rob Walter (white-ball coach) are going to be about Du Plessis giving his time to the team before the WC so that we can think, strategize and have him bat with some players. Is he good enough to play, absolutely yes! We have seen what he has been doing as of late,” he concluded.
Du Plessis has represented Proteas in 50 T20I games, scoring 1,528 runs at an average of 35.53, with one century and 10 fifties in 50 innings and a best score of 119. His runs have come at a strike rate of over 134. (ANI)

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