|Photos||Video & Audio||Blogs||Statistics||Archive||Shop||Mobile|
South Africa's top keepers have all mostly been more than capable with the bat
December 4, 2009
The thoroughly English notion of a wicketkeeper who can't hold a bat doesn't wash in the South African cricket consciousness. If the keeper is a liability as a batsman, he's simply a liability. This is probably because South African innings so often need rescuing, and who better to do so than the team's de facto sergeant-major.
So much so that the five fine glovemen our jury have included in their shortlist could all be considered allrounders. In fact, Denis Lindsay and Johnny Waite were probably better known and more appreciated for their batting feats than for keeping it tidy.
Similarly, Mark Boucher is destined to be remembered as the straight arrow who convinced Herschelle Gibbs to tell the truth about match-fixing to the King Commission, as the young turk who stood tall in only his second Test to share a world record ninth-wicket stand with Pat Symcox, as a champion hoarder of records of every description, as a batsman for the big moment, and as someone who you just don't want to mess with. Keeping? Yeah, he did a bit of that, too.
Nevertheless, South Africa has produced some of the finest stumpers ever to crouch behind the wicket.
Isolation victim Ray Jennings flew through the air with the greatest of ease and came up with the ball more often than not.
Steven Palframan was a world-class acrobat, who will forever be the klutz who dropped Brian Lara early in his superb 111 in the 1996 World Cup quarter-final. Palframan was haunted by the incident for years afterwards, insisting that the ball had bounced and admitting to spending hours in front of his television replaying the catch that might have been.
Wendell Bossenger - rightfully honoured as one of the SA Mutual and Federal Annual's Five Cricketers of the Year in 2009 - coulda, woulda, shoulda made the leap to international level. Alas, he faded from view when Griqualand West found themselves frozen out of the top flight at the dawn of the franchise era.
Nic Pothas looked, walked and talked like the real thing, and put in the hard yards early in a career that, unfortunately for him, coincided with Boucher's. Pothas is now an ersatz Englishman.
Boucher still looms so large on the wicketkeeping landscape in his country that South Africans struggle to see past him. And that despite the fact that he turns 33 on December 3 and no one else's knees have ever had to put up with 126 Test matches as a keeper.
But who will replace him? Thami Tsolekile is a spent force and AB de Villiers is reluctant. The South African selectors signalled their intent this season when they shone their light on Heino Kuhn, a busy young man not short on confidence. Who knows whether he might one day end up on a list like the one below? For now, these are our contenders for the best of South Africa's wicketkeepers.
Telford Vice made his Test debut as a cricket writer in Barbados in 1992 - the match that marked the end of South Africa's isolationFeeds: Telford Vice
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
|Comments have now been closed for this article
Gavin Larsen talks about wobbly seam-up, the 1992 World Cup, and his role in the next tournament
Ask Steven: Also, high scores and low averages in ODIs, most ducks in international cricket, and the 12-year-old Test player
Dickie Bird on what happened when he declined a request for a change of ball once
Modern Masters: Rahul Dravid and Sanjay Manjrekar discuss VVS Laxman's match-winning skills
Beige Brigade: Odd bowling actions, the Onehunga Cricket Association, commentary doyens, and Mystery Morrison's Test wickets
Also, the closest ODI team match-ups, most catches in a T20, and expensive Test debut five-fors
As West Indies play their 500th Test, here's an interactive journey through their Test history
Following the bowling ban on Saeed Ajmal, ESPNcricinfo picks five bowlers Pakistan may replace him with for the time being
ESPNcricinfo spoke to Ravi Shastri, India's new team director, after the conclusion of the tour of England, where MS Dhoni's team lost the Tests, won the ODIs and then lost the only Twenty20 international
Teams need to start strategising now for next year's event by picking the right men for various roles. England need to get on it sooner than most
The planned reorganisation of their domestic structure should help the region recapture some of the glory it enjoyed in the past
To formally instruct Yorkshire that the club captain should have no part in the trophy presentation, leaving him fearful even to chat to the media about the season that meant so much to him, felt like an overreaction
Hundred in a session? Easy peasy for Doug Walters