South Africa news November 29, 2011

Boucher knows he needs runs - Hudson


Mark Boucher, the South Africa wicketkeeper, is under pressure to score runs in order to prolong his international career. Andrew Hudson, the convenor of selectors, and Gary Kirsten, the national coach, have both said Boucher's batting form needs to improve to end questions over his inclusion in future South African squads.

Boucher is not part of South Africa's present limited-overs plans, though he filled in for the injured AB de Villiers for the home series against Australia, and he made only 20 runs in three innings during the two-Test series. Boucher batted at No. 7 and was the last recognised batsman before the tail began. Hudson said it was disappointing not to see a more responsible performance from Boucher.

"He understands that he needs to get some runs," Hudson told ESPNcricinfo. "It's not for me to say that, he knows that. Any No. 7 needs to be a pin, it is not unique to South Africa."

Boucher's wicketkeeping, however, was up to standards during the Tests against Australia. He took five catches to become the first player with 500 catches in Test cricket. "He is an exceptional wicketkeeper and he showed it in this series," Kirsten said after the Johannesburg Test. "It's not necessary for me or anybody else to tell him that he needs to improve his batting, because he knows it."

However, the former convenor of selectors Mike Proctor said Boucher's present dip in form could be linked to his axing for the 2011 World Cup. AB de Villiers was South Africa's wicketkeeper for the tournament in the subcontinent. "He [Boucher] was left out of the World Cup squad and I think that's when they [the selectors] should have kept him," Proctor said. "AB is an adequate wicket-keeper but if you put him behind the stumps, you lose the best fielder in the world."

de Villiers suffered a finger injury during the Champions League Twenty20 which opened the door for Boucher to be recalled to the ODI side. He scored 22 runs in three innings against Australia and did not fulfill his responsibility as a finisher. "Everything is about confidence," Proctor said. "If he is worried about whether he is going to be picked or not, that can play a role."

Before the second ODI in Durban, Boucher asked former South Africa wicketkeeper and coach, Ray Jennings, to travel to the city and give him personal coaching time. People close to Boucher said they had not seen him ask for assistance in this way in the past. Jennings and Boucher practised for two hours, on two separate occasions, and worked mostly on his wicketkeeping.

Proctor said he expected Boucher to "bounce back" in the upcoming home series against Sri Lanka, which begins on December 15, but he would have to take it "one season at a time." Hudson indicated that if Boucher showed improvement, he would secure his place for next year's tours to New Zealand, England and Australia.

"If Mark scores runs that puts the debate [over who will be his successor] to rest," Hudson said. "There is no reason he can't keep playing over the next year."

There is no clarity over who will be Boucher's successor. Heino Kuhn is the likely candidate for Tests. He has a first-class average of 44, has been included in A-team squads and has played five T20 internationals. Kuhn has not played an ODI, though, which leaves the door open for the likes of Thami Tsolkeile or Morne van Wyk. "We need someone who is good with the gloves, a first-class keeper, instead of just a batsman who can keep," Hudson said.

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dummy4 on December 2, 2011, 17:53 GMT

    this man is a legend behind stumps but playing b4 them even dale styne and Johan botha are doing pretty good job.....its been a while since we watched him as fighter....he needs to get some selectors know that there's no WC that can match mark's abilities in the even when they drop him and give khun,d.jacobs,wyn wyck or other a chance they might not reach his potential....the same thing will happen to S.a as it happened to o.z's when gilly left they are struggling even know so better to add 2nd keeper to squad and make him play here and der and leave Mark to retire peacefully.....

  • waseem on December 1, 2011, 14:25 GMT

    boucher a quality keeeper and a below average batsmen the past few seasons. his in the team for his keeping skills which is world class and loads of experience. boucher should be SA's number 1 keeper in the test 11 but SA should include a 2nd choice keeper in the 15 man squad. this would put boucher under pressure to score runs while the 2nd choice keeper will learn alot from boucher. 2nd choice keeper - kuhn should be the front runner because he is young with tsolekile, de kock, d.jacobs, daryn smit and van vyk all knocking on the door.

  • Dummy4 on November 30, 2011, 8:16 GMT

    Why in all that's holy in cricketing terms would you firstly get rid of Boucher who is the best WK we ever had. And why should he be a big run scorer, why are there batsmen in the side. If one should be going its Prince. The most important part of cricket is taking your chances, why risk it then with a second best or even third best Wk just for the sake of 30 or 40 runs extra. Keep him there he is good at what he does, with a added 20 runs per test. Its like saying Muralitharan should have been dropped because he didnt score runs?????

  • Dummy4 on November 29, 2011, 19:26 GMT

    I have in the past had meals and beers with Mark in one of my previous lives, nut HUDSON is the one who should have worried about runs in his playing days, what a Hypocrite. He is the one that if a phone call came in for him going in to bat, the caller would 'hold' as they knew he would be back very shortly. I do agree that Mark is coming to the end of his career and South Africa does need a 'younger' keeper, but his keeping is still up there. Everyone goes through a slump, some longer than others.

  • Rob on November 29, 2011, 16:57 GMT

    Boucher will quite rightly get the Sri Lankan series to justify his place, but if he doesn't improve with the bat then a new permanent keeper will be selected for the New Zealand tour. Morne Van Wyk would be my selection for the next four years.

  • Dummy4 on November 29, 2011, 15:45 GMT

    Tsolekile has outperformed Kuhn with the bat each of the last 3 years in ss cricket. Surely he must still come into the picture as well?

  • Dummy4 on November 29, 2011, 15:41 GMT

    there is a youngster that may just be the answer in a year or two.... ... Rudi Second...excellent start to a promosing career.

  • Srinivasan on November 29, 2011, 14:02 GMT

    Morne Wyn Wyck best choice.

  • Dummy4 on November 29, 2011, 13:26 GMT

    legendary wicketkeeper but he never amused anybody with his batting skills in tests so others should be blessed with opportunities . guys like van wyk ,quinton and kuhn should be given fair chance. kuhn just played 5 t20i and we cannot argue about him getting the chance on the basis of t20 performances, he averages 45 in first class

  • Dave on November 29, 2011, 13:18 GMT

    Boucher needs to be dropped. He batting averages in all formats speaks 'volumes'. SA would have demolished every team if they only had a wicketkeeper who contributed with the bat.... Gilchrist in the past, and now Prior for Eng. Everyone besides Hudson and Proctor know Boucher is over the hilll. Bring in Heino or Thami for the S Lanka series.

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