India in SA
Rob Houwing, Sport24 chief writer
SA will take second 'keeper
Cape Town – The Protea squad for the World Cup will include a second recognised wicketkeeper as back-up to AB de Villiers.
This was confirmed by national selection chief Andrew Hudson to Sport24 on Tuesday.
The 15-man party will be announced at the press conference soon after the finish of the third one-day international against India at Newlands.
Choosing this tally of players is seldom a straightforward exercise, considering the variety of “cover” options required for any international cricket side playing overseas.
Of the squads announced so far, it is interesting to note that all the subcontinental powers of India, Sri Lanka and Pakistan have not included a reserve gloveman.
As they will always be stationed at or very close to home during the tournament, rapid summoning of someone from outside the party should be fairly easy.
But both Australia and Zimbabwe, among the teams who will be travelling from a lot further away to the World Cup, will have ‘keeping insurance: in the Aussies’ case, Tim Paine will back up Brad Haddin, while Regis Chakabva is the deputy to experienced Tatenda Taibu for Zimbabwe.
And Hudson almost certainly provided the assurance that the Proteas will not go light in this department either.
“I think it’s very important to have back-up behind the stumps. For instance, if AB suddenly broke a finger on the morning of a game, you might have to rush someone like Hashim Amla into the ‘keeping job.
“And that’s just not fair or realistic, especially if it’s a pitch of low bounce and turn, and he’s having to stand up to both the spinners and some seamers. It would be an unprofessional situation.
“So the intention is certainly for our ‘numbers 12 to 15’ in the party to include a wicketkeeper.”
Hudson also said that ideally such a player would also provide competent “top or middle-order batting ability”.
Reading between the lines, that seemed to suggest that Morne van Wyk of the Bloemfontein-based Knights will be the big beneficiary when the squad is revealed – despite not having been in the 14-man party involved in the five-match India series.
But it is also believed that certain of the selectors have been leaning back toward the claims of veteran Mark Boucher, who more recently has been curtailed to only Test-match duty behind the stumps, while De Villiers handles all one-day needs.
Commentator and former Boland and SA Schools gloveman Craig Marais is just one critic who favours the inclusion of Van Wyk.
“It would be an inspired selection – just look how much freshening he brought as a batsman when he replaced Graeme Smith at the last minute for the Twenty20 international at Moses Mabhida Stadium recently.”