Why the Proteas need Mark Boucher

2010-02-20 00:00

ONE debate that has surely been put to rest during the Kolkata Test is whether AB de Villiers should take over from Mark Boucher as South Africa’s wicketkeeper.

Boucher’s absence because of a back injury has been a critical factor in what, at the time of writing, has been a sub-standard South African performance in the second Test against India.

Mind you, if Boucher had played, one wonders whether Alviro Petersen would have had the opportunity to make a century on his Test debut. I would like to think that the tour selectors would finally have decided that Ashwell Prince, a reluctant opener, should make way for someone eager and able to take the job.

Early in his career De Villiers was good enough behind the stumps to be selected as wicketkeeper for the second and third Tests of his career, against England in 2004/05, during that curious period when the selectors dropped Boucher, picking Thami Tsolekile for three Tests, then turning to De Villiers before returning to the man who now holds the world record for Test dismissals.

Back then AB told anyone who would listen that he loved keeping wicket and always kept his gloves in his cricket bag.

Since then much has changed.

In the first place, De Villiers has become a major batsman who has expressed the ambition to be the best in the world — too good, arguably, to have the additional burden of taking on another crucial role.

On the evidence of Kolkata, his keeping skills have become rusty. He took a good catch early on, but missed a simple stumping chance when Virender Sehwag was far down the pitch. Overall, he did not inspire the confidence that one takes for granted when Boucher is playing.

Some commentators expressed surprise that South Africa did not fly a specialist gloveman to India once Boucher became a doubtful starter. Who, though, would that have been?

Heino Kuhn was blooded in a Pro20 international this season, but has not convinced all critics that he is of Test class. Tsolekile spent a spell in the wilderness but has had a good season for the Lions, averaging 70,71 with the bat in the SuperSport Series and making 31 dismissals in eight matches. He is only 29, so might have been too young when he first played for South Africa without being overly impressive.

The bottom line is that Boucher, at 33, is playing as well as he has ever done. He has worked hard on his fitness, is keeping superbly and has had an excellent season with the bat.

Boucher also brings sense and steel to the South African effort. He might have stemmed the collapse that undermined the efforts of Petersen and Hashim Amla on day one and he surely would have brought more order to a sloppy effort by the Proteas in the field.

Unless Boucher himself loses motivation, there is no reason why he should not play for at least another two or three years.

* Colin Bryden is a former cricket correspondent of the Sunday Times and current editor of the Mutual & Federal South African Cricket Annual.

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
0 comments
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

 
/News

Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
Traffic
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.