Proteas need AB to replace Bouch
The catastrophic injury that ended Mark Boucher’s career on a gloomy damp day in Taunton is a reminder of how unpredictable professional sport can be.
As a professional sportsman one never knows what lies around the corner. Not many young professional sportsmen or women think about life after sport. Unfortunately a future after sport is a reality and has to be mapped out carefully.
After all should one be fortunate enough to have a long life, retirement takes up many more years than a playing career.
I am sure Boucher himself will have no issues in this regard. I am equally convinced that after the shock of this disappointment has worn off he will reflect with satisfaction, joy and happiness on a long illustrious and highly successful career.
Hopefully there will be no lasting damage from this severe injury and that Boucher will, in time, be able to put his experience back into the game in the capacity of his choice.
Due to Boucher’s injury and subsequent retirement the South African coaching staff and selectors have been forced into making a decision that has been a long time coming. The decision regarding the wicketkeeping role in the South African team after the Boucher era has been a speculative one for a long time.
There is no question that the strongest South African test combination now is with AB de Villiers taking the gloves and batting at five. This enables the selectors to include another specialist batsman at seven. JP Duminy is the obvious choice for this position. Not only is he a specialist batsman but he lends variety to the bowling attack with his off spinners. This combination will, to a large degree, ease fears in the South African camp about a long tail.
I suppose the question is whether De Villiers wants the responsibility of the keeping spot in test cricket. In days gone by players, irrespective of how good they were, didn’t have a great deal of say in how they were best utilised in a team. The attitude was very much one of if a player is fortunate enough to be selected for his country he filled the role best suited for the team.
Things have changed in this regard. These days senior players in particular are consulted a great deal more. In this case De Villiers I am sure will very much be a part of the decision whether or not he becomes the specialist wicketkeeper in test matches.
Personally I think he can do the job comfortably. He is an excellent athlete, mentally strong and more than good enough behind the stumps to fill the role. Deep down he will know as well that the Proteas are stronger and better balanced with him in this position on a permanent basis. If it goes well in this respect at the Oval it may be the end of the discussion.