London – AB de Villiers would consider continuing as South Africa’s Test wicketkeeper beyond the series with England but it is a move that Gary Kirsten says will require careful consideration.
De Villiers had the keeping gloves thrust his way following the horrific accident to Mark Boucher in the opening match of the tour against Somerset last week.
The veteran keep who stood in 147 Tests was forced to retire after a bail lacerated the white area of his left eye. De Villiers, who keeps in the two limited overs formats – where he is also captain - slipped on the pads and keeping gloves for the warm-up match in Kent and will do so again for the three Tests again England.
“AB was selected on this tour as a reserve keeper. We feel he is an interim keeper until we feel that a new keeper is ready to take over.
“It’s not a long-term thing that AB will keep in all formats, he likes to and it’s something he would consider doing, but we haven’t made a decision as to how that will unfold, but in the mean time he is our reserve keeper,” Kirsten said on Monday evening.
Thami Tsolekile, who was rewarded with a national contract earlier this year has linked up with the team following Boucher’s retirement.
However unless De Villiers gets injured Tsolekile is not expected to play a part in the series against England which starts at The Oval on Thursday.
“AB wants to see how the next period of time will pan out,” Kirsten added.
It is a heavy workload for a player who has previously had problems with his back, and De Villiers, whose position at no.5 in the order Kirsten described as crucial, may yet be allowed to slip down a spot or two in the order.
“AB will bat at five, he is one of our frontline batsmen and as long he is happy physically that’s where he will play,” said the South African coach, “If during the course of the Test match we feel he needs to drop down one ,we’ll make that call. But five is a crucial batting position because you can often walk into a very pressurised situation.”
“Ironically it creates great balance for our Test team, a frontline batter at seven makes for a powerful batting line-up. It’s as good a combination as we could have.”
South Africa will have their first practice session at The Oval on Tuesday morning. Kirsten said it would be a “big training session” where the players wanted to “get accustomed to the ground, which might have a bit more pace and bounce (than other English venues).”
South Africa have never won a Test at the Oval, and since 1994 they’ve last each of the three Tests played at the ground which is situated in the south of London.