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Cricket | SA Team

AB de Villiers © Reuters

Kirsten hints at long-term keeper replacement



A few years back, a certain South African wicketkeeper was struggling for form. People were calling for him to be dropped and for AB de Villiers to take over the gloves. But De Villiers stated that he did not want the gloves, as he wanted to concentrate on his batting and become the No 1 batsman in the world.

The wicketkeeper in question was one, Mark Verdon Boucher, a veteran of 147 test matches and 295 ODI's. Boucher, when under immense pressure, would come up with a match saving knock, that would silence his critics for just a few more games.

When Boucher suffered his career ending injury at the start of the England tour, De Villiers took over the keeping duties and did the job well enough, considering that England is one of the most difficult places to keep wicket.

His form with the bat did suffer, and people were questioning the rationale behind the decision to keep him behind the stumps. But, De Villiers' form has returned of late, meaning that the No 7 position can now be used in any manner that a test match dictates, whether a specialist batsman or bowler.

Boucher was seen consulting with the Proteas before the first ODI against New Zealand in Paarl, and specifically spending time with the 20-year old bizhub Highveld Lions keeper, Quinton de Kock.

"We are feeling it out. I don't want to turn someone away who has 147 test caps. I think he has a lot to offer," said Gary Kirsten at a press conference in Cape Town on Thursday.

"We just felt that it was perfect for him to spend some time with a young keeper like Quinton and really give him an understanding, not just of the skills required, but more importantly, the pressure of international cricket," added Kirsten.

The World Cup winning coach hinted at the possibility of De Kock being the long term replacement wicketkeeper.

"The plan is keep with Quinton in all three ODI's, reason behind that is two-fold: We want to give AB a real chance of just being a captain. He feels that to captain, bat at No 4 and keep is a really hard task, especially as a new captain. The other point, is a chance to look at a really young keeper that has some quality batting in him, and everyone within cricketing circles is excited about his batting ability," stated Kirsten.

Kirsten went on to add that, "I am really excited that Mark can add some value there and he is excited to still be involved."

The Proteas take on the touring Black Caps in three ODI's, starting in Paarl on 19 January, followed by games in Kimberley on 22 January and Potchefstroom on 25 January.



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