South Africa’s batsman AB de Villiers will replace Mark Boucher as the team’s wicketkeeper in their tour of England, with the first Test of a 3-match series starting on the 19th of July
(Fixtures : SA in Eng 2012).
Boucher suffered severe injury to his left eyeball and after a surgery, decided to announce his retirement from the game. South Africa have since called up Thami Tsolekile as a replacement, but de Villers will be keeping wicket for his team in at least the first Test at the Oval.
Boucher’s world record of 555 dismissals from 147 Tests will place solid pressure on de Villiers’ performance as a keeper, but that hasn’t brought down the enthusiastic batsman’s confidence. He spoke about the tour of England, which consists of 3 Tests, 5 ODIs and 3 T20s, and about the Proteas’ strategy regarding how they will approach the series, and was quoted saying:
“We are still deciding on the tactics. I am very excited as I have always been up for challenges. Whatever is best for the team and maybe it is that I take the gloves. I don't think it leaves us with a bad balance and it probably opens up an extra spot for another batsman or bowler.
“I have really been working on my keeping,” he added.
“I have been keeping in the IPL (Indian Premier League) and in the ODIs and T20s for the Proteas. I feel as though I am improving with the gloves.”
With the 3 Tests, South Africa, who are just one point behind ICC #1 ranked England, can dethrone their hosts and claim the top spot in Test cricket. But they have the disadvantage of not having had enough practice or warm-up matches before the step into the Oval. They have just 5 days of cricket before the series starts to prep up.
“Maybe we will be a bit undercooked and we would have liked to have played a couple of Test matches against whomever coming into the series but you have got to take what you get,” de Villiers added.
Later on, he also spoke about hoe he expected the clash to be and also about the opposition, England. He was quoted saying: “I think both batting line-ups will be under pressure in the series, (they are) two of the best bowling attacks in the world I believe.
“We have lots of respect for the English team for what they have achieved over the last few years.
“Andrew Strauss (England captain) and Andy Flower (coach) have done an amazing job with the team and we know it's going to be a hard-fought series,” he said.
“We are looking forward to the challenge, we know the number one spot is up for grabs and to achieve something like that would be a great thing so we will go out all guns blazing and hopefully we will come out on top.”
England’s current form and their undefeated-at-home streak of 7 series will definitely have an impact on South Africa’s composure, but de Villiers seems confident that his team can come out on top.