Rob Houwing, Sport24 chief writer
Boucher ton ends lean trot
Cape Town – Mark Boucher is finally back in business as a batsman, a boost for the Proteas ahead of their imminent tour of New Zealand.
The veteran wicketkeeper, who had registered only 102 runs in eight prior first-class innings (including four Test matches) at an average of 12.6, put his woes behind him as he grafted his way in the Newlands heat to three figures off 170 balls for the Cape Cobras against Knights on day three of the SuperSport Series match on Saturday.
It was his 10th first-class ton; five of them have come for the national cause.
The 35-year-old has come under pressure from some critics this season as his batting exploits have seldom justified his presence in the important No 7 slot in the Test side, and even his normally reliable glovework has occasionally fallen below his high standards.
Boucher’s last appearance for the Cobras in the four-day competition, against the Titans in Paarl, saw him produce scores of only six and one.
He did not have the opportunity to bat in the final Test against Sri Lanka at Newlands, and registered three and seven in the upset defeat to the Lankans at Kingsmead, so was clearly desperate for a lengthy vigil at the crease.
At the time of writing he was getting a crack on, having advanced to 121 not out off 188 deliveries as the title-seeking Cobras took their first-innings lead to 30 with three wickets in hand.
He was well within sight, too, of eclipsing his personal first-class best score of 134.
Boucher, batting at No 5, had been involved in a key partnership of 176 with Proteas colleague JP Duminy, who also sharpened up nicely for the trip to New Zealand by striking 104.
While wicketkeeping on the first day, Boucher had had some on-field treatment for what looked like a hamstring problem, but quickly resumed behind the stumps and his subsequent marathon knock suggests it must have been little more than a niggle.
Further good news for the national cause was top-order stalwart Hashim Amla scoring 93 for the Dolphins against the Lions at his home venue of Kingsmead – a handy four-hour workout for the reliable stroke-player before the challenge of the Black Caps in their own territory.