AB de Villiers reckons Mark Boucher can still play a key role in South Africa’s upcoming Test series in England despite a freak injury that forced him into retirement.
De Villiers is preparing to keep wickets in Boucher’s place during next week’s first Test at The Oval after the Proteas great suffered a severe eye injury after being struck by a flying bail in the tour opener against Somerset at Taunton earlier this week.
That injury prompted the 35-year-old Boucher, whose tally of 555 dismissals in 147 Tests is a world record, to announce his retirement and rule him out of a three-match series where any sort of win for South Africa will see them replace England as the world number one in the five-day format.
‘Boucher an idol in South Africa cricket’
But de Villiers, who will try to get his glovework going during a three-day game against Kent in Canterbury, said Boucher, with the cricket world wishing him well in his battle to save the sight in his left eye, would prove a powerful source of inspiration.
“He’s been an idol in South African cricket for many years; he’s been a rock, the guy with the guts,” said de Villiers, who has kept in a handful of Tests during Boucher’s 15-year career. And the 28-year-old has particular reasons for wanting to do well in his former teammate’s place.
“He was someone who was there at the start of my career, who looked after me, took me under his wing, helped me a lot with my cricket. I probably wouldn’t be here without him.
“It’s probably a big call but it’s true – he’s done a lot for my cricket. So not to have him here, it’s a bit of an emotional thing — which I’ve sort of gotten over the last few days.”
‘Will be a challenge to fill his shoes’
The Proteas vice-captain added that it will be a challenge to fill Boucher’s shoes.
“Obviously, he was, if not the best, then one of the best wicket-keepers in the world and I’m a little bit undercooked.
“But I’m looking forward to it if the gloves come my way in the Test matches. It’s a challenge I’ll take with both hands.”
Published in The Express Tribune, July 14th, 2012.
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