Cricket-Sri Lanka coach Arthur relishing Boucher battle in S Africa series

Nick Said
·2-min read
FILE PHOTO: Sri Lanka's cricket coach Arthur speaks during a news conference at National Stadium, Karachi

By Nick Said

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - Sri Lanka coach Mickey Arthur is looking forward to slugging it out with his South African counterpart Mark Boucher when the teams start a two-test series in Pretoria on Boxing Day, hailing the former wicketkeeper for his aggressive style on the pitch.

Boucher was one of Arthur's most trusted senior players when the latter coached the Proteas between 2005 and 2010 with excellent success in the test arena.

"Mark Boucher and I go back a helluva long way and I am really looking forward to locking horns with him," Arthur told reporters on Monday.

"He was an aggressive player and I’m sure he will be an aggressive coach too. It will be up to us to match that intensity.

"There is a wonderful familiarity for me now walking into the grounds. Africa never leaves you. That knowledge of the conditions will hopefully be of great benefit to us."

Arthur was in charge of Pakistan when they lost a test series 3-0 in South Africa last year.

Sri Lanka move straight from their bio-bubble on the Highveld to Galle for a test series with England that gets underway on Jan. 14, just seven days after the end of the second test in Johannesburg.

They therefore have a 21-man squad in South Africa and Arthur believes he is covered for all conditions.

"We have a very good seam bowling and spin attack, and I'm comfortable that our top six batters can prepare for any conditions," he said.

"We want to create some consistency around selections and roles. England is a home series, where our strategy and game-plan will be a lot different to South Africa.

"But if you play well and get some wins along the line, irrespective of conditions, you take confidence and belief, which is very powerful within a playing group."

(Reporting by Nick Said; Editing by Christian Radnedge)