I'm ready for a recall - Tsolekile
Seven years after making his Test debut, Lions wicketkeeper Thami Tsolekile says he is ready for an international recall. Tsolekile played three Tests in 2004 and was touted as a successor to Mark Boucher but did not go on to challenge for a spot. After moving from Cape Town to Johannesburg and, in his third season up country, Tsolekile believes he has done enough to be given a second chance.
Tsolekile was named captain of the South Africa Invitation XI, which will play a three-day match against the Sri Lankans in Benoni from December 9. Although he was not included in the squad for the first Test, Tsolekile hoped to make a big enough impression to get selected later in the series.
"My mind is in the right place. I'm in the right space and I'm ready for it," Tsolekile told ESPNcricinfo. "I am a much better player than I was when I first played international cricket. I must be thereabouts, because the guy who plays for South Africa A is usually next in line."
Tsolekile also played in the A side that faced the Australians and scored a half-century on a tricky pitch in Potchefstroom. He had also captained the A team on tours to Sri Lanka and Bangladesh last year.
Although a competent wicketkeeper, Tsolekile was tripped up at international level by his batting. He scored 47 runs in three Tests and admitted he was below-par. "Keeping has always come naturally to me, but I would say that my batting wasn't up to international standards when I made my debut."
Since moving to the Lions franchise, after the coach Dave Nosworthy rescued an out-of-contract Tsolekile from an office job, he spent a lot of time crafting his batting technique. "I used to rely too much on talent," Tsolekile said. "In batting, you have to work hard for runs, so the big thing for me was to learn to become more patient." Tsolekile said he learned from batsmen Neil McKenzie and Zander de Bruyn and the efforts paid off.
In his first season with Lions, Tsolekile was the leading wicketkeeper at domestic level, both with bat and gloves. He scored 581 runs at an average of 58.10 and had 39 dismissals. The 2010-11 season was less profitable and his 281 runs came an average of 25.54. He amassed fewer runs than fellow wicketkeepers Daryn Smit, Morne van Wyk and Heino Kuhn, but Tsolekile and Kuhn had the most dismissals - 35. This season Tsolekile is, once again, in front. He has 269 runs from four matches.
Tsolekile believed his performance over the previous three seasons would strengthen his case. "When you pick a wicketkeeper, you have to look at someone who has been consistent and had two or three good months, not just one.
"I have always batted at No. 6 or 7 and so I am used to pushing the lower order along," he said. "None of this will be new to me. I am 31-years old now and know my game well."
Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent