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How Mark Boucher’s expansive career can take Mumbai Indians to the next level

Legendary South African cricketer Mark Boucher has thrived in his role on the cricket field and off it as well, boasting an admirable resume that has seen him excel as a wicket-keeper batter first and then as a coach.

With an eye for the future, while maximising the present, newly-appointed head coach Mark Boucher brings a wealth of top-level experience to the Mumbai Indians as they look to reclaim the title once again next year.

Recognised as one of the greatest wicket-keeper batters of all time, Mark Boucher holds the record for the most Test dismissals by a wicket-keeper ​​with 555 in all, including 532 catches. Boucher was also the first wicketkeeper to take 500 catches in Test cricket.

The overall final tally for Boucher's career was 998 international dismissals, shortened, unfortunately and agonizingly, due to an eye injury just prior to his final series against England in 2012.

Boucher, the batter, lived for the big moment. This came through on the biggest stage early on in his career, when he and Pat Symcox created a legendary record ninth wicket stand of 185 during Pakistan's tour of South Africa in early 1998. The fact that the Proteas were in trouble at 186/8 when Boucher came to the crease is a testament to his grit and determination.

Another notable performance was the brilliant unbeaten 50 he struck off the penultimate ball of a One-Day International match between South Africa and Australia in Johannesburg in March 2006, chasing 434. This set the then record for the highest successful run chase in ODI cricket history.

Later in the same year, Boucher reached another milestone by scoring the second-fastest ODI century ever against Zimbabwe, scoring 143 in just 68 balls and reaching his century in just 44 deliveries.

Having played 147 Tests and 295 ODIs, Boucher was instrumental in South Africa's journey to becoming one of the best teams of the 2000s. He also held the vice-captaincy of the team under Graeme Smith.

Post-retirement, Mark Boucher joined fellow Indian Premier League franchise Kolkata Knight Riders as a wicketkeeping coach in 2016. After that, he took over as head coach of Titans in the domestic South African league, winning five trophies in three seasons. Boucher was then appointed as the head coach of the South Africa men's national team in December 2019.

Boucher's strategies helped South Africa win four out of eight Test series and five out of 12 T20 International series. The team throughout showed the characteristics their coach was known for - imposing, resilient, and ferociously devoted.

Just before the COVID-19 pandemic, South Africa whitewashed Australia at home in a three-match T20I series. Notable performances for the Proteas in Test cricket included the 2-1 series victory against high-flying India in 2021.

Boucher’s legacy lies in guiding the South African team during transitions, which saw Dean Elgar replacing Faf du Plessis as Test captain following the latter’s retirement from Test cricket. Changes afoot also saw Temba Bavuma become the full-time white-ball captain. Throughout these changes, the one constant was Boucher, and he leaves the side far from turbulence and well settled.

Those characteristics, aided by the quality squad that MI have, will create a strong arsenal for the team to go forth and bring further success. In what is a transition phase for the franchise as well after the IPL mega auction, Boucher’s leadership and know-how will be crucial.

Come IPL 2023, Mark Boucher will put his impeccable understanding of the game, gained through a career that has lasted more than 25 years, to guide Mumbai Indians to the top.

The current South Africa national team coach will join Mumbai Indians after the T20 World Cup in Australia.