The shambles of South Africa's wicket-keeping
- Ken Borland
- 19 Jan 2013 10:42 (South Africa)
It’s a serious blow to the good image of the South African cricket team’s management and selectors, who have been exemplary in most other departments, that they still don’t seem to have a clue when it comes to a long-term plan for a successor to Mark Boucher behind the stumps.
Having controversially insisted that the role belonged to De Villiers, one of their standout top-order batsmen and the captain of their limited-overs sides, they have now passed the gloves to an untried 20-year-old who has suddenly jumped the queue.
Coach Gary Kirsten and De Villiers himself have strongly defended their decision to make one of their key batsmen keep wicket in all three formats for the last year but now, suddenly, in mid-season it seems there is a problem with the tactic.
“We want to give AB a chance to just be the captain. We feel that to captain, bat at four and keep is a very hard task, especially as a new captain. It’s something that we spoke about even before he started the role, because I was concerned that it was going to be too much to ask of him. He really wants to focus his attention on his captaincy,” Kirsten said on Thursday.
Kirsten’s comment that he has been “concerned” about the workload from the outset will come as a big surprise to all those journalists who have queried the decision over the last year, only to be met with a forthright defence, as solid and as straight a bat as the left-hander wielded in his playing days.
It’s a dramatic change of mind and it suggests there is not as much stability as there should be in the one-day team as De Villiers completes 18 months in his captaincy term.
And that De Kock should suddenly be the next in line is also cause for much debate. There is no doubt the Highveld Lions prospect is seen as a “Golden Child” … why else would the disciplinary inquiry he is currently embroiled in for shoving a player in a Sunfoil Series match be delayed by Cricket South Africa until after his ODI debut?
”It’s a chance to look at a really young ‘keeper who has some quality batting in him. Everyone within cricketing circles is very excited about his batting ability. I remember Mark Boucher being very much the same and then he came through as a ‘keeper,” Kirsten added.
Well not quite everyone would agree with you Gary. There is a strong caucus of opinion that for all his exciting talent, De Kock is not yet ready to keep wicket at international level or even play as a specialist batsman.
The Lions have seldom elected to put him behind the stumps when Tsolekile is available and Ray Jennings, CSA’s own wicketkeeping guru and the coach of the SA U19 team that De Kock kept for last year, has stated his preference for other glovemen in the pecking order.
It would seem that the selectors and Kirsten may well have made an uninformed selection when it comes to De Kock. It is always a massive risk throwing someone so young, with so little senior cricket experience into the international arena, and generally a mature temperament and life skills are looked for in order to ascertain whether a kid will be able to handle the fame and pressures.
Do they know De Kock opted out of school at King Edward before he had completed matric? What does his current disciplinary problem and a history of frustrated coaches at junior level say about his temperament?
“I’ve met this guy once before and the longest conversation I had with him was one minute,” Kirsten admitted.
This sudden change of wicketkeeper also smacks of De Villiers picking and choosing, series-by-series, which roles he wants to fulfil. This can’t be good for the continuity of the team. Unless, of course, the decision he has made for this ODI series will also count for the Tests against Pakistan next month.
But this seems unlikely as Kirsten said De Villiers “feels keeping in 50 overs is more intense than in a Test match”.
That may well be true when you’re busy rolling New Zealand over in three days, but proper Test cricket could see De Villiers having to keep for 120 overs, often in extreme heat, and then come out and score the match-winning, big hundreds his ability demands of him.
The one sensible thing the management have done this week is employ Boucher as a mentor for De Kock. But will the record-breaking wicketkeeper’s services also be extended to the other contenders like Tsolekile, Heino Kuhn, Daryn Smit and Dane Vilas?
De Villiers’ reluctance to be the incumbent wicketkeeper in all three formats makes the decision to snub Tsolekile look even worse and will only ensure a tougher time for CSA when they try to explain the fiasco to the parliamentary sports portfolio committee.
As the future leader of the best cricket team in the world, it is time De Villiers took a stand and made a firm decision that he will concentrate on being the number one batsman in the world and Graeme Smith’s successor in all three formats, leaving the wicketkeeping job to a specialist.
Ian Healy was at the heart of the great Australian team of the 1990s and kept wicket with great success to Shane Warne and Glenn McGrath as they dominated all batting line-ups.
Interviewed on Australian TV recently, he said not having a specialist wicketkeeper would leave a hole in any Test team, except those that can boast bowlers of the quality of Warne and McGrath.
“Warne and McGrath were so good that they would create probably 22 wicket-taking chances in a Test, but most teams only create 16-18, which makes it absolutely crucial to have a specialist wicketkeeper who can take every chance that comes his way.
“People go on about Adam Gilchrist’s batting, but you must remember he was not batting in the top five and could play with freedom, especially since he had such a powerful line-up coming in before him,” Healy said.
The South African cricket team are digging themselves a hole, when there are common-sense solutions staring them in the face.
De Villiers keeping in limited-overs matches makes sense, but then the workload on him must be lessened by choosing a specialist wicketkeeper for the Test team. DM
- Ryan McLaren: His own man, not stepping into Kallis’ shoes
- Cricket: The mystery of the Lorgat witch-hunt, unravelled
- Volvo Golf Champions: Oosthuizen stays on top
- Analysis: Proteas' miraculous draw at Wanderers
- Daily Maverick’s SA rugby player of the year: Willem Alberts
- Transformation in cricket: Proteas crying for a black superhero
- Farewell, Baby Jake
- Madiba Magic: Kryptonite for SA’s sporting opponents
- Cricket: Not quite bowled over by India’s performance
- Cricket: SA vs India, 1st ODI preview
- ODI: Domingo weighing up pitches and spinners
- ODI: India arrives amid grumblings about BCCI dictates
- Cricket: SA needs to up batting to outclass Indian world champions
- Rugby: Mon Dieu, Springboks, well played!
- SA Open, final round: High drama on the greens
- Analysis: Where’s the good news for Cricket in SA?
- SA Open: Bad weather, but afternoon field dominates
- Springboks should expect a torrid French pushback in Paris
- SA Open: Still a quality field despite star withdrawals
- Rugby: Why Meyer picked Le Roux as starting fullback
- Rugby: Scotland’s brave fight wasn’t enough
- Rugby: Big, bruising forwards bound to keep Scotland on back foot
- Save the Wales: Boks harpoon the Red Dragons
- SA vs. Wales: Meyer picks intriguing squad to face the Red Dragons
- Jean de Villiers: nice guys make the best winners
- Ruthless Sharks, tame Newlands
- Currie Cup final: Epic clashes await
- Cricket, the game of bullies
- Currie Cup: WP and Sharks in the final
- Currie Cup preview: Final frontier for WP favourites
- Currie Cup: Back-to-back wins on the cards for WP?
- Currie Cup finals: The last, desperate fights
- Rugby Championship: Bitter pill for Bok fans
- Boks vs. All Blacks: It’s not just a magic ‘four-try formula’
- Rugby: Fresh out the Boks – the latest announcement
- All Blacks: They’ll do it their way
- Rugby: Protect the attacking side, says Meyer
- Rugby: A wallop for the Wallabies
- Springboks vs. Wallabies at Newlands: This is war
- Springboks vs. Wallabies preview: The pressure is on
- BCCI & CSA crisis: Up the creek, no visible paddle
- Rugby: Yellow card, black Saturday
- SA vs. All Blacks preview: Think outside the Boks
- Rugby: Boks on top, and settled there
- Rugby: Springboks hammer the Wallabies, hard
- Preview: Australia vs. Springboks
- Rugby: Not such a Zane-y choice
- Quo Vadis, SuperRugby?
- Rugby: Boks win, but without conviction
- Boks vs. Argentina: Bring it home at hostile Mendoza
- Rugby Championship: Springboks pummel Pumas
- Preview: Boks and Bafana have their work cut out at FNB Stadium
- Rugby Championship: Bok lineup will have its hands full against Argentina
- Rugby: Don’t cry for Argentina
- Rugby: Tightheads at a loose end
- SuperRugby: Chiefs are Champs
- SuperRugby: Relegation or promotion speaks volumes of Saru
- Soccer: The forgotten talents of the Vaal Professionals
- SuperRugby semi-finals: Sometimes off the game plan, but always on the game
- SuperRugby: Expect no mercy this weekend
- SA cricket: All hail Haroon Lorgat
- SuperRugby: What the heck happened to the Cheetahs?
- SuperRugby: Chilly weather could put Cheetahs on the back foot
- SuperRugby: Stormers - attitude in spades
- SuperRugby preview: Bulls should expect no patriotism from Stormers
- Throwing the Bull(s): Sharks fight hard, but come off second best
- SuperRugby: Sharks hoping for a miracle on Loftus
- SuperRugby: Bulls marching on
- SuperRugby: Confident Bulls to rest three more against Southern Kings
- CSA: No harm, no Faul
- Springboks smash Samoans: A promise of things to come?
- Rugby: A win against Samoa will reassure Bok fans
- Nedbank Golf Challenge gets bigger in players and stature
- Changes to Bok squad for physical game against Samoans
- Boks broke down at the breakdown
- Boks vs Scotland: Attitude is everything
- Springboks vs Scotland: Meyer hoping for repeat performance
- Only two changes to Bok squad for test against Scotland
- Boks vs. Italy wrap: Meyer’s defence tested in 5-try romp to victory
- Boks vs Italy preview: In search of factor X
- Springbok team: The proven plus a pinch of pizzazz
- Springbok squad: Safety-first Meyer shows flexibility, daring
- SuperRugby wrap: Bulls hand Cheetahs a lesson in relentless precision
- SuperRugby preview: Bulls, Cheetahs clash will be up close and personal
- Springbok squad preview: A few headaches but no migraine for Meyer
- SuperRugby wrap: Steyn keeps the Bulls on top
- SuperRugby Preview: In the eye of a storm
- Titanic clashes: SuperRugby roundup
- Sharks: Once bitten – hopefully not twice shy
- Rugby Against Rape
- SuperRugby wrap: Inspired Kings reward loyal fans
- SuperRugby preview: Defence and patience key for the Cheetahs
- Rugby: Like Bulls in a china shop
- SuperRugby preview: Attacking boost for Sharks but danger lurks in Dunedin
- Rule-bound IRB tackled over Cyprus exclusion
- SuperRugby wrap: Bulls hang on to top spot as Cheetahs miss a trick
- SuperRugby preview: Plumtree rings the changes
- Coming up through the rankings: Roelof vd Merwe
- SuperRugby preview: Bulls must take Kings clash by the horns
- SuperRugby wrap: Bulls, Stormers get back on track
- SuperRugby: Crunch time for the Sharks
- Masters preview: Tiger, Tiger burning bright
- IPL: Enjoy it while it lasts
- Are our current cricketers our most talented ever?
- SuperRugby wrap: Sharks, Cheetahs, Kings against all odds
- SuperRugby preview: Hot and cold Stormers in the Cheetahs’ lair
- SuperRugby wrap: Cheetahs stretch winning run
- SuperRugby preview: Crunch time for resurgent Stormers
- SuperRugby wrap: Stormers blow away Jake’s Brumbies
- As easy as AB…de V
- SuperRugby preview: Crunch time for the Stormers
- SuperRugby wrap: Cheetahs keep SA flag flying
- SuperRugby preview: What Sharks, Pip!
- Tshwane Open: Dawie van der Walt wins by sticking to his guns
- SuperRugby wrap: Unattractive victories by Sharks and Bulls win few fans
- SuperRugby preview: Throw away the record books
- Tshwane Open preview: Youth and power vs. age and finesse
- SuperRugby wrap: Dream start for Southern Kings
- SuperRugby preview: Telling opening weekend for SA teams
- Here we go again, Cricket South Africa
- SuperRugby preview: Brief lull before the storm for SA franchises
- Demise of Tournament of Hope, a boost for Nedbank Golf Challenge
- Joburg Open, final round: Sterne well and truly back
- Joburg Open, first round: Sterne, German rookie make hay on West Course; Easton aces East Course
- Community Cup: A celebration of rugby’s grassroots
- Joburg Open: Schwartzel’s backyard under siege
- Pakistan turn heat on HotSpot
- CSA ‘stranded between Sascoc and the wishes of Mbalula and Judge Nicholson’
- Proteas vs. Pakistan: Tourists save face as Graeme Smith’s men lose focus
- Cricket: Happy Biff Day to you
- Farewell, Louis Luyt
- Positive Pakistan: Yes, we Kahn!
- O Captains! Our Captains!
- Pakistan vs. Proteas: Youth and inexperience vs. the world's best bowling attack
- The shambles of South Africa's wicket-keeping
- The Lions Challenge: It's our party and we'll play who we want to
- Cricket SA bosses: Nicholson who?
- Swimming in 2012: Chad and Cameron against all odds
- Sports year in review: The best of the rest
- Golf in 2012: When Irish eyes are smiling...
- Rugby 2013: The All Blacks will still be the team to beat...
- Golf: Everything under the Sun (City)
- Cool Kaymer makes it a German double
- Nedbank Golf Challenge: Pros disappoint, underdogs on top
- Nedbank Challenge: It's Africa's Major, make no mistake
- Nedbank Golf Challenge preview: Oosthuizen and Schwartzel edging closer to form
- Meyer's mojo growing stronger
- Boks play it by the book: Victory first, entertainment later
- Santa and siege of fortress Twickenham
- Stenson strikes it hot at SA Open
- Boks running more scared than ever
- Sweden sour: High stakes for Stenson in the SA Open
- Great Scots! The Boks have their work cut out
- South African Open: Bremner's flight to the top
- Shanks a bunch: the fairytale of Cyprus rugby
- Clash of the titans: The South African Open's two most determined golfers
- Rugby: Springboks snatch luck of the Irish
- Rugby: When Irish fly(halves) are smiling
- Back in action: crowd-pleasers in the latest Bok squad
- Golf: First matchplay championship in 25 years on Sunshine Tour
- Keep calm and 'Currie' on: WP wallops the Sharks
- Shark attack: Currie Cup preview
- Cricket SA: A whole new meaning to 'not above board'
- Currie Cup: Lions fans, Welcome to heartbreak hotel
- Rugby preview: Of conundrums and Currie Cups
- Ernie Els: Big, but not so easy - especially in SA
- In like Lions - but will they go out like lambs?
- Heyneke Meyer: Have a little faith, folks
- Springboks: Good, but not good enough
- Boks vs. All Blacks: the heat is on
- Clash of the Titans: Springboks vs. All Blacks at Soccer City
- It’s just part of the (lip) service
- Rugby: Tough calls for the Springboks
- Rugby: Meyer's major metamorphosis
- Rugby Championship: Springboks Hungry for Wallaby Meat
- Up and down days on the rugby circuit
- Rugby: Men Versus Boys
- The Gospel according to Heyneke Meyer: Springboks down but not out
- Rugby: Lady Luck vs. Morne Steyn
- Hey, Heyneke Meyer: Check your blind spot
- Overwork the players and they WILL drop the ball
- Crushed by the All Blacks: South Africa's national facepalm moment
- Rugby preview: The All Black fortress awaits Springboks
- Boks vs. All Blacks: We're in for hell...of a show.
- Rugby Championship: Boks with no spring
- Rugby Championship: Time to Bok up
- SA rugby's time to enter 21st century
- Nervy Boks prepare for must-win Wallabies test
- Springboks: Heyneke Meyer still unmoved