South Africa in Australia, 2012-13

AB de Villiers' wicketkeeping questioned

Firdose Moonda

November 15, 2012

Comments: 80 | Text size: A | A

AB de Villiers and Vernon Philander walk off after the draw, Australia v South Africa, 1st Test, Brisbane, 5th day, November 13, 2012
Ian Healy believes Vernon Philander's batting should allow AB de Villiers to give up the 'keeping gloves to Thami Tsolekile © Getty Images

AB de Villiers' batting is being hindered by his wicket-keeping despite his own claims to the contrary, according to former Australian gloveman Ian Healy. While Healy said there is no reason de Villiers cannot become a specialist keeper-batsmen, he will only be convinced of his ability in the dual role once de Villiers has proved himself in a tough situation.

"My jury is out until we see how good he is when the pressure is on," Healy told ESPNcricinfo. "I am going to really have a good look at him and see. But I do think it's going to take some effectiveness out of his batting."

De Villiers has not scored a half-century since taking over the gloves from Mark Boucher at the start of the England tour after which he was side lined for three weeks with a recurrence of a chronic back injury. He has made starts in almost all of his innings, including four scores in the 40s and an important and potentially match-saving 29 not out in over two hours during the second innings at the Gabba.

But it is also obvious that de Villiers has lacked the explosiveness of the past, last seen in his audacious 160 not out against Sri Lanka at Newlands in January. While the scoop over gully still makes an appearance, de Villiers has adopted a more conservative approach and has failed to capitalise on platforms already laid by the top four.

Since de Villiers took over as wicket-keeper, he has also not been called on to make any significant batting contribution under pressure. South Africa used Mark Boucher's forced retirement as an opportunity to lengthen their batting order and with seven frontline batsmen, de Villiers's scores have not stood out.

Healy does not think South Africa should continue with such a long line-up, especially because most of their bowlers are competent with the willow as well. "There is no need to bat at low as South Africa are batting at the moment with [Vernon] Philander being a decent hitter and Steyn down there we well. How many batsmen do you want?" he asked. "You might as well have a specialist wicket-keeper in there who will be utterly responsible for the quality come day four and day five when you've got spinners operating."

Similarly, de Villiers has not had to play in a match where spin has played a major role yet, which Healy thinks will be the true test of his glovework. South Africa fielded a four-pronged pace attack at the Gabba and were hoping to rely on the part-time off spin of JP Duminy for variation before he was injured after the first day.

With team management and de Villiers himself saying he would prefer a spinner in the starting XI, Imran Tahir is likely to make a reappearance in Adelaide. Even if he does not, one of Faf du Plessis or Dean Elgar will play and both are occasional spin bowlers. On a surface that is known to deteriorate on the final two days, De Villiers may face his sternest examination.

"He hasn't got much spin to keep to here [in Brisbane] but if you are keeping on day four or day five with Australia in a tight situation where they need 80 to win and five wickets in hand and a tough stumping chance happens, that's when de Villiers doesn't want to be wicket-keeper, if he is not good enough," Healy said. "But South African management are not saying he is not good enough at the moment so we have to wait and see. He might get lucky here in Brisbane with no spin but he just needs to be careful. His wicket-keeping might cost them something and it might blunt his batting. He doesn't need that and neither does the team."

Duminy's injury may allow South Africa to avoid that problem by replacing him with the specialist wicket-keeper Thami Tsolekile and not another batsman. Tsolekile played three Tests for South Africa in 2004 and was a disappointment but, like Vernon Philander, has been back to the domestic game to work on his trade.

Since joining the Lions at the start of the 2008-9 season, Tsolekile has been the domestic circuit's best gloveman, has played for and captained the South African A and was contracted by CSA in February - an indication that he would be Boucher's successor. Although his first-class batting average is 29.01, he is a determined and capable batsman. His half-century against the touring Australians on a tricky pitch in Potchefstroom last summer and recent 70 in a first-class match against the Dolphins where he was the top-scorer are examples of that.

Alviro Petersen, Tsolekile's captain at the Lions, has no doubt he can make the step up to international cricket. "Four years ago, when I gave him a call to join the Lions, he was working in the office at Western Province. The reason I called him was simple: I knew he was a fighter and I knew if he gets an opportunity he will take it," Petersen said. "He is a wonderful team player and he is ready. South Africa has got a good wicket-keeper in him."

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent

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© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by   on (November 17, 2012, 13:50 GMT)

De Villiers ,as a wicket keeper ,adds more lineaments to the team & doubting his accomplishments is totally despicable. Healy's comments on passing on gloves to Thami Tsolekile is just mind games. Aussies, likely to see , Tsolekile rather than a specialist batsman scoring runs.AB may not be a long term wicket keeper but, as long as, he is in the field ,let him relishing the game.

Posted by TommytuckerSaffa on (November 17, 2012, 7:09 GMT)

Really dissapointed in what Healy as said. Firstly during the commentary he praised AB saying what a good job he had done in England, etc. Now he comes out and questions his keeping. Its really said when ex-players and cricket pundits are also involved in mind games against the opposition.

Posted by Chris_P on (November 17, 2012, 6:33 GMT)

@SCC08. Where do you get your numbers. AB hasn't hit a 50 since taking the gloves! LOL, nothing like made up numbers to make an invalid point.

Posted by R_U_4_REAL_NICK on (November 16, 2012, 21:42 GMT)

Yup - I said it before the match. SA have the depth to hand the gloves over to Tsolekile and barely dent the batting. With Duminy out, I'd much rather see this happen and AB moved up the order with focus on his batting, than have the likes of Elgar brought in...

Posted by ygkd on (November 16, 2012, 7:01 GMT)

You can go right back to the formative days of test cricket to see controversy regarding keepers. Victoria's Jack Blackham was selected for an early role while New South Welshman Billy Murdoch played as a bat. The eventual result? Blackham wrote the manual for modern keeping and Murdoch made the first test double century. So the selectors got it right. Since then, however, there's too much pressure on wickies to average as much as the specialist bats. Sure Gilchrist may have done it, but then it was partly the way he played; giving it a whack so he often wasn't long at the crease. Big, considered innings are not going to come from quality keepers too often, even if they have the technique because their concentration is hampered by the strain of keeping well. Batsmen-first/keepers don't have quite the same problem as they don't do so much, tending towards being planted in the one spot and relying on late reactions rather than anticipation. Half-doing the keeping keeps your mind fresher.

Posted by doubledeckerbaas on (November 16, 2012, 2:59 GMT)

In an age where there is no problem for coaches to swop roles with the arch opposition from one year to the next, I think we should still remember that Ian Healy is an Australian offering advice to an SA team during a series against Australia. Sometimes selection could be based on what the opposition would least like. I think the aussies would be happy to see Tsolekile, rather than a specialist batsmans, come into the team.

Posted by Tomek on (November 16, 2012, 2:40 GMT)

I love the focus on Ian Healy here. This article was written by Firdose Moonda, Healy was about my least favourite cricketer but a fantastic keeper and half decent bat. Gilchrist changed the landscape that had been on it's way for a long time. Sangakarra likewise. But if South Africa, with a currently awesome top 5 and an equally awesome pace battery and a possibly devastating leg spinner, can accommodate a specialist keeper then that keeper could get them a stumping, a run out, a catch that a keeper/batsman would miss. Keepers are involved in so many dismissals. They change the mentality of batsmen. Australian 1st Class batsman were MUCH less likely to leave the crease when Darren Berry stood up as he never made mistakes, got stumpings from thin air. Even had a down the leg stumping off Damien Fleming. He was a freak with his hands, and although he could barely bat at all his input was devastating.

Posted by L4zybugg3r on (November 16, 2012, 0:53 GMT)

@RyanHarrisGreatCricketer - honestly I don't think this is an attempt at mental disintegration, having listened to Healy in the commentary box for years I think it is just that he is very interested in keepers, particularly specialist keepers. Even to the point where I could imagine Slats and Co rolling their eyes. Considering where he is coming from as a very good specialist keeper I think his point is well made this time though. As an aussie I think AB as a specialist batsman is a much more worrying prospect than as a keeper batsman, besides this is the best time for them to try a keeper instead of calling up a new-ish batsman. If they try a batsman now (sorry I can't remember who else is in the squad) they will probably feel aggrieved at only having a couple of games because it is likely AB will drop the gloves when they return to SA.

Posted by   on (November 16, 2012, 0:27 GMT)

I heard on the TV coverage Healy saying De Villiers is a natural gloveman when he took that half volley down the leg side. Make up your mind Heals! I think SA miss him in the field though to be honest.

Posted by blink182alex on (November 15, 2012, 23:10 GMT)

I don't think CSA consider De Villiers as a long term keeper, but want him to just get through the England and now Australia tour. Tsolekile will come into the test side against NZ, where he can settle in in home conditions against a weaker team. AB is also the successor to Smith as captain, can't realistically bat at 4-5 (with Kallis gone), keep wicket and captain, Sangakarra giving up the gloves is an example it's too much.

Posted by   on (November 15, 2012, 22:35 GMT)

I see Moonda in all her wisdom has at least stopped saying Tsolekile is the best based on taking more catches than other keepers... LOL. Now she just says he's the best in SA cricket without giving a reason. Hopeless...

Posted by Erebus26 on (November 15, 2012, 22:17 GMT)

Yeah Heals, like Matthew Wade is such a hot-shot behind the stumps!!!

Posted by 2nd_Slip on (November 15, 2012, 22:16 GMT)

ABD has done perfectly fine with the gloves in limited overs cricket i really dont see why people are making such a big deal of the few lacklastre performances he has had with the bat since taking the gloves.

Posted by LewisDuckworth on (November 15, 2012, 21:41 GMT)

I still think that AB is South Africa's best choice as keeper.

With players like Du Plessis and Albie Morkel who can't get games there's no reason to replace Boucher with a keeper who averages less then 30 with the bat at first class level.

De Villiers glove work is very good, and while his batting may have gone off slightly, he's probably still the best keeper/batsman in Worls cricket at test level.

Posted by ygkd on (November 15, 2012, 21:07 GMT)

Healy has a point. De Villiers could make a good keeper in as much as, to my mind, he has more natural ability than Matty Wade (who, due to his one-dimensional movements can keep well to right arm pace bowling outside off to right-handers or leftie pacemen angling across in the same vein and not much else besides). However, being a good keeper and a top bat is extremely difficult. Look how much more Sangakkara averages after he gave up the gloves. Then there's the question of wickets. If SA want to bowl sides out twice then they should pick someone who'll take the catches and make the stumpings they need. Their problem in the first test wasn't runs (and that was one batsman down!) but wickets. You see this time and time again - teams who can't take the wickets looking to bolster their batting when it comes to the gloveman. What on earth does that achieve?

Posted by sangam-cricmaniac on (November 15, 2012, 16:43 GMT)

If only Q. De Kock can be drafted into the South African side then both problems can be solved. He is a specialist wicket keeper and a very good talent. Tsolekile is almost 30 yrs old now and De Kock is 19, so this will be a long term replacement and will benefit Proteas in future. But the process of drafting him in team should be well planned because India have already lost Parthiv Patel just because he was given a test cap too early.

Posted by peterhrt on (November 15, 2012, 15:54 GMT)

A year ago AB de Villiers was arguably the world's best batsman. That alone was reason enough not to make him keep wicket. Add the fact that he is one of the finest all-round fielders in the game and the decision makes even less sense. Converting batsmen into wicket-keepers nearly always reduces their runscoring significantly. Stewart, Sangakkara and Wayne Phillips have been mentioned. Further examples were Walcott and Dujon. The one exception was Andy Flower who seems to thrive more than most on extra responsibility. De Villiers averages 50 in Tests when he doesn't keep wicket; 34 when he does. Converting a specialist batsman into a wicket-keeper is not the same thing as choosing one regular keeper over another because of superior batting. One should be avoided; the other considered only after carefully comparing relative competence behind the stumps. The Australian selectors kept Gilchrist waiting, and only called him up when superior gloveman Healy began dropping catches.

Posted by   on (November 15, 2012, 15:24 GMT)

Quentin de Kock is the answer. Simple as. Young top order batsmen , but a specialist keeper as well. With him you would still have 7 batsmen and he is still very young. Could make team with his batting alone. Boucher was also young when started. Tsolekile is only an average domestic player plus he is old

Posted by   on (November 15, 2012, 14:37 GMT)

@IanHampton & RyanHarrisGreatCricketer. I agree with both of you. Healy's comments makes sense to a degree but the suggestion of possible mental disintergration by Healy also makes sense. It is most decidedly a mind games ploy to mesmarize l" AB should he drop a catch or miss a stumping. But I think AB has strong enough character to withstand these aussie onslaughts. Keep focussed AB and show the world a thing or two. Good luck!

Posted by Trevor_G on (November 15, 2012, 14:30 GMT)

Wonder of wonders. Someone finally brought up this issue that has been bothering me ever since AB put on the gloves. We Saffas love AB as an incredible fielder and as a batsman of great skill and character. We know that he wants to be in the thick of things at all times, but he is not a very good Keeper, his batting is declining and he is missed in the field. Tsolekile is a far better Keeper, but his talents have been squandered by the selectors. With mentoring and planning, Tsolekile could have become a pretty decent Keeper-Batsman. In a way this is the old SA story. Persist with a broken formula while talent rots on the shelf until a circumstance like MB's injury forces a change.

Posted by BellCurve on (November 15, 2012, 13:29 GMT)

I fail to understand why the author of this article (Firdose Moonda) keeps promoting Tsolekile. The argument that she sets out in the last two paragraphs of this article is incredibly weak. She refers to a couple of 50s to establish his batting credentials, and for the rest she relies on subjective statements (such as the one by Tsolekile's good mate, Alviro Petersen). Why not build a case for the selection of Kuhn, De Kock or Vilas? They are the obvious candidates to replace Duminy and relieve De Villiers. In the final analysis the conclusion has to be that Tsolekile is not good enough and too old.

Posted by AK_25 on (November 15, 2012, 13:25 GMT)

bt AB must thnk abt keep in test...keeping in odi's is in test its diffrent.....sangakara n McCullum left keeping in test to play as a speciallist batsman...look at sanaga with less burden in test he improves day by day...

Posted by StaalBurgher on (November 15, 2012, 13:09 GMT)

While I am firmly in favour of having a specialist wicketkeeper and allowing AB to concentrate on his batting (which has to suffer even if he just happens to be gonig through a bad patch now regardless of keeping) the problem is that Tsolekile is at best in the same batting league as Boucher. People were bitching endlessly about Boucher and how he doesn't contribute with the bat enough. That won't change with Tsolekile. I have this feeling they are very reluctant to play Tsolekile for this reason. The team is much stronger as it is now even with AB struggling with the bat. Until a new wicketkeeper that can bat 40+ appears I will be surprised if AB gives up the gloves without injury.

Posted by   on (November 15, 2012, 13:02 GMT)

Ian Healy said the same thing when Australia wanted to replace him with Adam Gilchrist.

Posted by SurlyCynic on (November 15, 2012, 12:50 GMT)

I'm shocked, Ian Healy calls for a 'specialist keeper' and Firdose calls for Tsolekile to come in. Whatever next?

Posted by   on (November 15, 2012, 12:45 GMT)

Why are we even talking about Thami being the successor in the team?? He's 32 already and will have a career of maybe 2 yrs. If we want to blood someone then look at de kock or one or 2 others who may have a prolonged career in the national side.

Posted by   on (November 15, 2012, 12:37 GMT)

I'm afraid any advise from Ian Healy should be treated the same way as any from Ian Chappell. Both are so one eyed ,anything they suggest is only for the benefit of Australia.

Posted by   on (November 15, 2012, 12:09 GMT)

THWACK!!! Ferdose Moonda is clearly jumping on the 'equity' bandwagon here, and is quoting one 'segment' from Healy's commentary. The reason AB is keeping, is to afford 7 specialist batsmen, as the top six are not concrete set yet, question marks on Petersen's ability to be consistent in both innings, and on Jacques Rudolph too, make this decision even more important. TSOLEKELE, is not test match batting material, and baying for him to keep is politically motivated and will lose focus when De Villiers smacks his first ton of the series. Nice try Ferdose

Posted by   on (November 15, 2012, 12:06 GMT)

Ab De Villiers has played stunning knocks in ODIs even when he has kept. Ab De Villiers at one point Tom Moody called him "The Best Player in all formats" (IPL) IF TOM MOODY has said that certainly he is some player. As he keeps more he will become the best keeper batsman

Posted by truthfinder on (November 15, 2012, 11:50 GMT)

AB D'villiers being keeping wickets is absolute nonsense. Not only does SA loose their best batsman (yes he is better than Kallis and Amla and deserve to come 3 or 4), but also possibly the best close-in fielder in the world. Being a wicketkeeper he just does the routine work not anything spectacular, where as he can turn the game by his superb catching and run outs if he is a close-in fielder. As a batsmen he was actually the most successful in the team against stronger teams like Aussie , India or England. Moreover SA do not include any extra bowler for the place vacated by him as both WK & MO Batter. That means he is used as a specialist keeper only while a specialist batter coming at no 7!! ridiculous!! It is high time SA should apply sense in their strategy and bring in specialist WK and relieve him to concentrate on leading the batting line-up.

Posted by ozpenguin on (November 15, 2012, 11:33 GMT)

It seems strange to weigh down your most attacking batsman with the wicketkeeping duties. Given de Villiers has already missed time this season with a back injury, it seems to almost be tempting fate. If SA have four of the world's best batsmen and the best attack, why do they need 7 batsmen? That sounds very conservative.

Posted by tearawayquick on (November 15, 2012, 11:20 GMT)

The current team is the best squad that SA have got. I would suggest that SA dont tinker with it. Only a matter of time before A B scores runs..he does not look out of form. Steyn would be pleased to know that Heals rates him as a got hitter, same with Philander... Both are tailenders who should not be batting higher than 10 and 11. These are just mind games by former players to upset the combination.

Posted by heathrf1974 on (November 15, 2012, 10:48 GMT)

Wicket keepers usually get tested when keeping against spin (close to the stumps). How he goes with Tahir will give a good indication of his abilities.

Posted by   on (November 15, 2012, 10:16 GMT)

What Simoc? Would you rather have a specialist keeper who averages mid thirties and misses nothing, and a number five with an average of 50? You criticise Healy, but how do you reckon de Villier's would've gone against Warne in his prime? He would have been made to look the amateur keeper that he is.

Your team can afford to have a specialist keeper, and as you say average's over 30, and the have de Villiers averaging high 40's at number 5 or 6. And he kept on a road in Brisbane. We'll see on day five in Adelaide, as Healy rightly says.

Posted by   on (November 15, 2012, 10:07 GMT)

SA should be careful. It can ruin a promising career. The name that springs to my mind is Wayne Phillips. He came into the Australian side in 1983 and scored a 150 on debut. After Rod Marsh retired, Australia didn't really have a successor. Phillips had been a keeper at most levels of cricket until he made the Shield comp where he had played all his first class cricket as a batsman.

He was asked to keep around the Windies Tour of 1984, and did, not having kept since he was a club cricketer. Keeping to the likes of Lawson and Hogg. When he got the gig, his average hovered around 50 and he was still opening the batting. He was gone in a bit over two years later with an average of 32. He hit a debut century and got just one other in a 27 match career that by rights should have been easily double that, if not triple, as a mainstay opener.

Be very careful, South Africa. Let the keeper keep, and the batter bat.

Posted by Simoc on (November 15, 2012, 9:52 GMT)

Well Matt Prior has missed a stumping and a catch on the first morning of the Indian test match and he is supposed to be a highly rated keeper. More nonsense from Healey who isn't up to the standard of other commentators. He says he'll have a close look but did he have his eyes shut in Brisbane. AB deV did fine. Specialist keepers are a thing of the past. They need to average above 30 with the bat and most do at present.

Posted by   on (November 15, 2012, 9:33 GMT)

ab is a competent keeper but i think he is being wasted he was one of south africa most exciting explosive batsman . the argument that tsoleike batting is not good should not apply if the top order smith amla kallis do their stuff.

Posted by sachin_vvsfan on (November 15, 2012, 9:02 GMT)

Me thinks it is too much of burden. He is more capable with bat than what he showed. Good luck AB.

Posted by   on (November 15, 2012, 8:57 GMT)

I support his argument.. As we know he's a terrific batsman and can play in any situation.. He proved this many times..Both in batting and fielding.. To be frank, he's an awesome fielder.. The best fielder of present days.. He proved that many times.. But making him as a wicket keeper is restricting his game and blocking the best out of him... He's not a regular keeper.. he's captain of the one-day side.. So this builds up the pressure upon him physically and mentally too.. I just want to see him as a specialist batsman and a terrific fielder... Let him enjoy his game to the maximum and make him play independently... I wish SA cricket would think about this..

Posted by   on (November 15, 2012, 8:54 GMT)

As a South African fan I read this as basically spin that our opponents are trying to sow some doubt in our decision making.

Truth is, AB batted brilliantly on the final day and led the team towards the draw despite significant pressure from our opponents. If Healy doesn't see that then he doesn't have eyes to see ...

I would rather have a good batsmen/good keeper than somebody outstanding in either role ... Our recent surge to number 1 in the world relies very heavily on the balance provided by AB and Kallis in playing dual roles, and being very skilled in each.

Posted by Gordo85 on (November 15, 2012, 8:46 GMT)

I think that I have to agree with Healy here. I seriously want Tsolekile to come into the side in place of Duminy. I have said it myself even with Tsolekile in the team you still have a good length with the batting. You could even have Phillander infront of him in the order and put Tsolekile down even if they wanted to. South Africa to me need de Villers in the field to help them in tight chances. Faf will be unlucky if he doesn't play but still he is there. I say what do you have to loose? South Africa it might just work but then again if it doesn't you can in the 3rd Test if you want to, to pick Faf who is a great fielder like de Villers.

Posted by Tomek on (November 15, 2012, 8:31 GMT)

I love the focus on Ian Healy here. This article was written by Firdose Moonda, Healy was about my least favourite cricketer but a fantastic keeper and half decent bat. Gilchrist changed the landscape that had been on it's way for a long time. Sangakarra likewise. But if South Africa, with a currently awesome top 5 and an equally awesome pace battery and a possibly devastating leg spinner, can accommodate a specialist keeper then that keeper could get them a stumping, a run out, a catch that a keeper/batsman would miss. Keepers are involved in so many dismissals. They change the mentality of batsmen. Australian 1st Class batsman were MUCH less likely to leave the crease when Darren Berry stood up as he never made mistakes, got stumpings from thin air. Even had a down the leg stumping off Damien Fleming. He was a freak with his hands, and although he could barely bat at all his input was devastating.

Posted by   on (November 15, 2012, 7:56 GMT)

Devilliers knows whats best for him and whats best for the balance of the team, and right now it is best if he is wicket keeping so they can play an extra specialist batsman

Posted by   on (November 15, 2012, 7:26 GMT)

Personally, I would go with the Dolphins' Daryn Smit - he's proved himself more than capable in the four day format, he can certainly wield the willow nicely at #7 and he's kept to Tahir for several years, so the spin issue Healy outlines shouldn't be a problem for him either.

And of course, if SA find themselves in a situation where an extra spinner is required, AB could take the gloves for a few overs and Smit could come on and take a few wickets with his rather effective bowling.

Moreover, by the time he is ready to retire, de Kock would've matured into the kind of keeper that can be a mainstay of the team for a decade - it's a classic win-win scenario!

Posted by Reverend-Cavalier on (November 15, 2012, 7:17 GMT)

I love Healy's tactics. The SA team is known to have a deep flaw in character, almost paranoia. They should have won so much since 92, but have so little. They have great self doubt. Healy is playing on that...very clever. The Pommie press, though, are the experts at this tactic.

Posted by Nightwing32 on (November 15, 2012, 7:16 GMT)

Ian Healy, one of the best keepers of all time. So he knows what he is talking about. Sure his commentary is a bit iffy but when it comes to keeping, he knows his stuff.

Posted by Meety on (November 15, 2012, 7:15 GMT)

I noticed that whilst AB takes the ball well behind the stumps, he is not as robust as other keepers in general play - i.e getting to the stumps when a run out chance is on. I said before the series - that ABs trend of only averaging in the 20s as a keeper batsmen (although boosted marginally by this test), means that Tsolikele is a better option in place of either Duminy or Rudolph. Now that Duminy is gone, Tsolli should be the keeper. Against England - Sth Africa were lucky that the coupole of missed chances by AB did not cost them. It MAY not be the case this time around!

Posted by PureTom on (November 15, 2012, 7:00 GMT)

I don't think this is headology at all, or if it is it's not very good. Ian Healy is quite right and hasn't said anything new that the SA camp doesn't know. AB should not keep in tests, he has the potential to be one of SA's greatest ever batsmen but that potential is wasted by putting him behind the stumps. He will never be a "great" keeper and if he keeps he will be merely a good batsman. The problem here is actually Mark Boucher, he has created a role that noone is going to be able to fill and so SA are casting around desperately for someone that they are not going to find. AB comes the closest at the moment, but not because of his keeping skills. At some point the Proteas are going to have to bite the big one and pick a mere mortal to keep for them and then work on creating something great, hopefully before AB is crippled by his back and has an average of 35!

Posted by hotcric01 on (November 15, 2012, 6:51 GMT)

AB's glove works are not impressive as his batting.He can't hold dual role.Young de kock is a better solution.His batting also looks smart.

Posted by stormy16 on (November 15, 2012, 6:46 GMT)

I agree with Healy - the jury is still out on this and AB deserves a fair shot to adapt to his new. He could easily be a Gilly type of player for SA but at this stage questions remain over the effect on his batting. The best example of this is Sangakarra who averaged 40+ as a wickey and you'll take that but after giving up the gloves he averages nearly 70 only second to Bradman and AB has the ability to be a very special batter. So its not about the fact he will make a few runs but what SA is missing in terms of a seriously talented batter who could tear apart any attack on in any condition. I dont see them making a change mid -way through this series but decisions will have to be made soon.

Posted by   on (November 15, 2012, 6:44 GMT)

Silly point raised by healy

Posted by Andre117 on (November 15, 2012, 6:22 GMT)

The problem with AB is that because he has accepted the gloves he will never admit that he cannot handle it. I hope he puts the Proteas above himself and hands over the gloves. People seems to forget that he might be one of our best fielders of all time without the gloves. I'm a big fan of De Kock and Vilas as we need an aggressive late middle order batsman. De Kock's advantage is that he has easily the best first class average AND the best dismissals per game currently in South Africa. Just to sweeten the deal he has scored 194 off 257 balls against a strong Cobras attack in this year.

Posted by rockyyy on (November 15, 2012, 6:20 GMT)

@RyanHarrisnotagreatcricketer Healy is absolutely right , Wicket keepers 1st job is to keep well if devillers dont do that he dont deserve a place in the team as a keeper

Posted by RightArmEverything on (November 15, 2012, 6:17 GMT)

Even if Healy is trying to stir things up, I do agree with him. I think it's short-sighted to have De Villiers as a top 5 bat and WK, especially as he is possibly the team's next captain. He's too good a batsman to take that risk unnecessarily.

Posted by SCC08 on (November 15, 2012, 6:14 GMT)

He averages 46 with the bat since he's taken the gloves.. Isn't that just terrible! If he had the luck of no balls / drop catches like the others have maybe he'd be ave 75 during this period and this article would be written praising him. This is nothing other than Ausi propaganda tactics trying to upset the SA balance to the side. Thami isnt good enough for this Test Series and a Faf or Robbie P selection would be far better for the team. If Healy and Gilly played in the same time period, do you think Aus would have played Gilly in Tests as a batsmen and Healy as a kepper??? No.......

Posted by bridget01 on (November 15, 2012, 6:06 GMT)

AB is probably the most talented player SA have.......but taking on the keeping full time will require a much higher level of commitment, particularly so considering his relatively poor performance standing up to the stumps. Great players work on a weakness and turn it into a strength....can he do it???? For SA, it would be a tremendous advantage moving forward....perhaps a move down to 7?? Gilchrist dominated most bowling attacks batting there and would have made any team in the world based on his batting alone......Not many cake have their cake and eat it too

Posted by Shongololo on (November 15, 2012, 5:57 GMT)

Methinks Firdose has an agenda here, punting for Thami and talking him up at every opportunity. You don't have a retainer with him, do you?

As I've said before, Thamii is unfortunately not the man. Better gloveman, better batsman is de Kock...and he's still in his teens, not early 30s.

Posted by spinnerbowl on (November 15, 2012, 5:53 GMT)

haha healy using mind games against AB putting him under pressure to perform better when he is performing fine so Australia have an advantage

Posted by hst84 on (November 15, 2012, 5:49 GMT)

healy doesn't have to worry about SA's problems. He should have more problems with his own team right now who isn't performing too well..their tactics are now too obvious and exposed they can't go on now for any avid cricketing fan..

Posted by Tomek on (November 15, 2012, 5:34 GMT)

The obsession with batting line-ups is such a joke. Pitches are roads, bowlers are highly trained and can all at the very least stay in for a bit. If South Africa and Australia want to win games then step up, play 5 bowlers, 'keeper at 6, and your best 5 batsmen. If a line-up such as Smith/Petersen/Amla/Kallis/De Villiers can't get you a score then tacking on Rudolph is hardly going to be the difference between 150 and 400. Then you have a specialist keeper (complete myth that you need a keeper/batsman, in every single format of the game a true keeper can be a winning difference) and you've got, as the article states, a bunch of bowlers who can bat. Add to that, if you do fall over every now and then for 200 (so unlikely) then you have 5 frontline bowlers and Kallis, meaning there will not be one minute of let up for the opposition.

Posted by dariuscorny on (November 15, 2012, 5:26 GMT)

i think Healy is right here,SA cannot waste the huge calibre and talent of AB this way,this can be felt baffling.its like putting your feets in two different boats at the same time.AB is not even impressive with his keeping.since his glove work he's been below par,he shud be relieved from that job,to enhance SA's chances

Posted by MrCricket2 on (November 15, 2012, 5:17 GMT)

Can't agree more to Heals. SA needs AB as a batsman and fielder no doubt about it...!

Posted by   on (November 15, 2012, 5:11 GMT)


Posted by LillianThomson on (November 15, 2012, 5:09 GMT)

Sounds like they need to repatriate Kruger Van Wyk. Or Matt Prior.

Posted by Biggus on (November 15, 2012, 5:08 GMT)

@RyanHarrisGreatCricketer-Are we then to assume, oh learned one, that every time a journalist writes an article that is not completely laudatory of it's subject that's it's an attempt at 'Mental Disintegration'? Should commentators on the sport limit themselves to congratulatory acts of fandom, and if so what then would be the point, given that the one-eyed fans of any given country have that well covered? I would have thought that cricket journalists' jobs required them to ask the difficult questions that those too obsessed in player worship are blind to, and whilst I'm no fan of Ian Healy's parochial style (in fact as an Aussie I find him to be an embarrassment) the question is a valid one. Many SA fans in these very pages in the lead-up to the series posted sentiments such as, "De Villiers must not keep", so I guess by your reasoning those SA fans were attempting to mentally disintegrate their own team too?

Posted by crh8971 on (November 15, 2012, 5:01 GMT)

We have seen with a couple of other good batsmen who could also keep, Alec Stewart and Kumar Sangakara, that their batting was never of the same standard when they were also keeping wicket. Indeed Sangakara has shown us what a great batsmen he is since getting rid of the gloves. AB is such a fine batsmen and dynamic fielder that, even though he undoubtedly has the talent to be a good keeper, I think the Saffers are taking too big a risk asking him to keep. Even more so when you consider he has a chronic back injury. To some extent I think it is the Gilchrist effect that test teams would no longer think an outstanding keeper who grafted his runs at number 7 for an average around 30 is doing a good job. The Saffer's have such a good top 6 that they do not need a specialist batsmen at 7. Kallis with his bowling should allow them to pick a perfectly balanced team with 6 to order batsmen, a keeper, 3 specialist quicks and a spinner.

Posted by jonesy2 on (November 15, 2012, 4:57 GMT)

if i was a s africa supporter i would be livid that de villiers is keeping. SA can make some incredibly crazy decisions in their cricket side

Posted by Ozcricketwriter on (November 15, 2012, 4:55 GMT)

A B de Villiers is a decent keeper, just that he isn't quite as good as Boucher. Not far behind though, and this is a bit harsh. I think that Quinton de Kock should come straight into the side as the keeper - he is a magnificent player.

Posted by Reggaecricket on (November 15, 2012, 4:52 GMT)

Typical Aussie psychological tactics! Since when has Healy been concerned about the opposition?! The South Africans are too strong mentally, to fall for these cheap tricks!

Posted by Prats6 on (November 15, 2012, 4:49 GMT)

AB is one of the best cricketers in the world. I am surprised to see him burdened with Keeping duties. It has to hamper his batting, if anyone says otherwise is living in wonderland! He is too valuable a player to be sacrificed for the 'balance' of the side.

Posted by HatsforBats on (November 15, 2012, 4:44 GMT)

It seems a shame to lose AB as a batsman when there are suitable keeping replacements. Before the Duminy injury I thought Rudolph was surplus but I'm not sure what their options are now. Don't they have a good young keeper batsman at home?

Posted by   on (November 15, 2012, 4:32 GMT)

While i do like Firdose Moonda articles, i am tired of reading how she would love to have Tsolekile in the line-up.

Posted by ramab on (November 15, 2012, 4:29 GMT)

I think SA should drop Rudolph and Klienveldt and go with FAF, Tsolekile and Tahir. That should make them more balanced.

Posted by Chris_P on (November 15, 2012, 4:18 GMT)

It affected Alec Stewart, it affected Sangakarra, it is so draining. I enjoy AB's free flowing batting, this guy is a real credit to the game, but for the people who enjoy the spectacle of a free flowing batsman, then we will see less of it from AB while he continues with the gloves. Only my thoughts, personally, it is better for us if he keeps them, but I do like watching him bat.

Posted by IshanH on (November 15, 2012, 4:17 GMT)

Didn't know Healy loves Proteas this much. Mind your OWN business mate!!

Posted by GMFoley on (November 15, 2012, 4:15 GMT)

De Villiers' keeping was poor up at the Gabba. You can tell that he is a fielder asked to keep- his footwork is almost non-existent and he relies solely on his good hands to get him through. Bring in Tsolekile for Adelaide- his keeping could be the difference.

Posted by   on (November 15, 2012, 4:03 GMT)

I think they should stick with De Villiers for the rest of the Australia series

Posted by   on (November 15, 2012, 4:00 GMT)

healy follows the typical aussie mental game nonsense.

Posted by Robster1 on (November 15, 2012, 3:58 GMT)

After this tour, AB should never again be burdened with the gloves at test level, but Tsolekile is just not the solution with his age and weak batting against him. In this batsman/keeper era Vilas, Kuhn or young De Kock would be a better solution.

Posted by RyanHarrisGreatCricketer on (November 15, 2012, 3:53 GMT)

ian healy is trying steve waugh's mental disintegration tactics

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