South Africa news February 13, 2012

Thami Tsolekile handed central contract

23

Thami Tsolekile has been identified as the successor to Mark Boucher in Cricket South Africa's (CSA) first decisive move to find a replacement wicketkeeper. Tsolekile was named as one of 22 contracted players for the 2012-13 season, the first time CSA have contracted a second wicketkeeper in 13 years since contracts were first awarded in 1998.

"There's definitely intention there for him to play for South Africa in the longer formats. We've showed our hand and said we think he is ready to be a successor," Andrew Hudson, convenor of selectors told ESPNcricinfo. "But the selection decisions still have to happen and there are no guarantees."

Tsolekile has been playing first-class cricket since 1999 and represented South Africa in three Tests in 2004, when Boucher was dropped after a lean patch. He took six catches but scored only 47 runs and Boucher was soon back at the helm, a position he has occupied for the last 15 years.

However, Boucher has suffered a dip in form himself, having last scored a Test century in November 2008 and has faced mounting pressure over his place in the side. He acknowledged that he is considering retirement soon saying that he knows, "everything has to come to an end," and has forced CSA to intensify their search for a successor.

In previous years it has been difficult to isolate one of the franchise 'keepers as the next best in the country, but the selection committee was forced to do so in the most recent meeting. Contenders included Heino Kuhn, who has played a handful of Twenty20 matches for South Africa, Dane Vilas, who is taking lessons from Boucher at the Cobras and Daryn Smit, who bowls legspin occasionally. But, the selectors have settled on Tsolekile, saying his recent form with the bat and maturity behind the stumps gave him the edge.

"He has always impressed at South Africa A level and he scored runs in England and Sri Lanka. The 58 he scored against the Australians in Potchefstroom at the start of the summer was also important," Hudson said. Tsolekile has averaged over 50 with the bat in two of the last three domestic seasons while his glovework has remained, according to Hudson, "outstanding."

Although he has not been included in the national side for next month's tour to New Zealand, Hudson said he would be considered for the England series later in the year. It is hoped that Boucher last act, which he has hinted could be on that very tour, will be to play an active role in grooming his successor. "His contribution to the national squad has been immense," Hudson said. "Maybe it can be part of his farewell to leave a legacy and teach his understudy."

Tsolekile has shown that he is willing to learn and had made significant improvements from when he first appeared for South Africa. "I was very surprised to get a national contract but all the hard work I've put in has paid off," he said. "As a cricketer I have matured with age and experience and I am more ready now than when I made my debut and I would love to get another chance."

Tsolekile is one of three newly contracted players, with the other two being Jacques Rudolph and Faf du Plessis. Rudolph was recalled to the South African Test squad at the start of the season for the series against Australia. After seven innings opening the batting without a half-century, Rudolph was moved down the order to No. 6 and said that with his place in slight limbo, did not expect to get a contract.

"I was surprised but it's very nice that they have invested their trust me and I would like to repay that," he said. "I would like to have performed better because I got a lot of starts but did not capitalise on that. Gary [Kirsten] (the coach) has made it clear that he wants to give players extended runs so it's nice to know I have his backing."

With Rudolph's place at No.6 still an experimental one, Ashwell Prince's contract was renewed despite him being dropped from the Test squad after the second Test against Sri Lanka. "We never want to write people off and the No. 6 position is still open," Hudson said. "If Ashwell is playing well it can only benefit South Africa. He has been a great servant of the game and is still in our plans."

Those cut from the contracts list include Loots Bosman and Ryan McLaren. Bosman has struggled to find form after undergoing knee reconstruction surgery two seasons ago while McLaren has been left out despite good form. He was the leading allrounder in the recently completed four-day SuperSport Series with 576 runs and 26 wickets.

Another name of interest left off the list is young tearaway Marchant de Lange, who is currently on his first full tour with the national side. de Lange has played just one Test and Hudson said he will be a part of South Africa's future plans. "If you look at it, it took Vernon [Philander] two full series, against Australia and Sri Lanka, before he was offered a contract. We can't always relate contracts to who we will play going forward because selection decisions still have to be made but Marchant is definitely part of the plans."

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • BlackInWhites on February 16, 2012, 13:26 GMT

    Cooooooooooooooooooooooooongratulations!

  • BlackInWhites on February 16, 2012, 12:01 GMT

    Why is it that every time a player of colour is selected, some people immediately look for any reasons to discredit them. You are so quick to shout "Qouta" without looking at the facts that are there. I did not hear comments about Rudolph's age when he was given a contract. I did not hear any people shouting for the 22 year old Rilee Rosouw instead of Rudolph. Why are we applying double standards here?

  • djdrastic on February 15, 2012, 7:23 GMT

    I don't believe in the Easter bunny but I believe in our dear government is always messing around with politics in our sport.History backs me on this one old chum :)

    Anyways , Tsolekile will fail as the game of cricket has changed.Dedicated glovemen who can bat a little bit have not been in flavor for the last decade or so.Your wicketkeeper MUST be a top notch batsmen as well.

    Time will tell I am right.

  • Gizza on February 15, 2012, 0:38 GMT

    I don't know South Africa's domestic cricket well enough to know myself but there seems to be a mixed response over whether there is a quota system at play or not. If there is a quota system, I think it is quite unfortunate. It feels like the reverse of apartheid and means South Africa are much less likely to field its best XI on the park. I think there are better ways of reintegrating the black community such as through greater funding and maybe creating a new franchise in KwaZulu-Natal.

  • on February 14, 2012, 10:59 GMT

    Thank you my namesake, MrGarreth! Do you guys who believe that there are quotas in the national side also believe in the Easter Bunny? Who in recent time has done the least at franchise level to get selected for the national team? Ans: D. Miller.

    2009 Tsolekile: 15, 581, 58.1 Kuhn: 15, 577, 41.2 2010 Tsolekile: 11, 281, 25.6 Kuhn: 14, 348, 26.8 2011 Tsolekile: 15, 476, 59.5 Kuhn: 14, 529, 40.7

    And he's clearly a superior keeper to Kuhn. This is Vilas' first full season at franchise level, he's clearly class, but it'd be hella brave to select him...

  • Twirly on February 14, 2012, 10:52 GMT

    Stats and form aside, if South Africa are looking for Mark Boucher's long-term replacement, Thami isn't it: he's already 31 years old! That's less than 4 years younger than Boucher. By comparison, Kuhn and Vilas are 27 and 26 respectively. Surely investment in a younger keeper, of whatever colour, who can develop and grow with the national team over the next 8+ years, is the right approach.

  • Crazythhbsrth on February 14, 2012, 10:27 GMT

    So we are replacing an aging wicket keeper who isn't a dominating batsman with an aging wicket keeper who isn't a dominating batsman. I think we are missing a big trick here, let us all hope Thami proves us wrong.

  • djdrastic on February 14, 2012, 9:06 GMT

    Gotta love the Quota system.We have a keeper in the domestic circuit who , one month ago scored over 150 and caught 10 catches and he still can't get into the squad.Maybe Vilas should start sleeping with the selectors to get a mention ?

  • Robster1 on February 14, 2012, 3:02 GMT

    Tsolekile - why oh why etc. Couldn't be due to quotas could it. Oh dear if so....What on earth does Kuhn have to do to earn a contract or chance. A deeply unimpressive selection.

  • the_wallster on February 13, 2012, 22:33 GMT

    and people wonder why south african players like rudolph, pietersen, trott etc. come over here to try and play international cricket, when the likes of boucher and de lange are dispensed with, only to replaced by unknowns with mediocre records. now you see why?

  • BlackInWhites on February 16, 2012, 13:26 GMT

    Cooooooooooooooooooooooooongratulations!

  • BlackInWhites on February 16, 2012, 12:01 GMT

    Why is it that every time a player of colour is selected, some people immediately look for any reasons to discredit them. You are so quick to shout "Qouta" without looking at the facts that are there. I did not hear comments about Rudolph's age when he was given a contract. I did not hear any people shouting for the 22 year old Rilee Rosouw instead of Rudolph. Why are we applying double standards here?

  • djdrastic on February 15, 2012, 7:23 GMT

    I don't believe in the Easter bunny but I believe in our dear government is always messing around with politics in our sport.History backs me on this one old chum :)

    Anyways , Tsolekile will fail as the game of cricket has changed.Dedicated glovemen who can bat a little bit have not been in flavor for the last decade or so.Your wicketkeeper MUST be a top notch batsmen as well.

    Time will tell I am right.

  • Gizza on February 15, 2012, 0:38 GMT

    I don't know South Africa's domestic cricket well enough to know myself but there seems to be a mixed response over whether there is a quota system at play or not. If there is a quota system, I think it is quite unfortunate. It feels like the reverse of apartheid and means South Africa are much less likely to field its best XI on the park. I think there are better ways of reintegrating the black community such as through greater funding and maybe creating a new franchise in KwaZulu-Natal.

  • on February 14, 2012, 10:59 GMT

    Thank you my namesake, MrGarreth! Do you guys who believe that there are quotas in the national side also believe in the Easter Bunny? Who in recent time has done the least at franchise level to get selected for the national team? Ans: D. Miller.

    2009 Tsolekile: 15, 581, 58.1 Kuhn: 15, 577, 41.2 2010 Tsolekile: 11, 281, 25.6 Kuhn: 14, 348, 26.8 2011 Tsolekile: 15, 476, 59.5 Kuhn: 14, 529, 40.7

    And he's clearly a superior keeper to Kuhn. This is Vilas' first full season at franchise level, he's clearly class, but it'd be hella brave to select him...

  • Twirly on February 14, 2012, 10:52 GMT

    Stats and form aside, if South Africa are looking for Mark Boucher's long-term replacement, Thami isn't it: he's already 31 years old! That's less than 4 years younger than Boucher. By comparison, Kuhn and Vilas are 27 and 26 respectively. Surely investment in a younger keeper, of whatever colour, who can develop and grow with the national team over the next 8+ years, is the right approach.

  • Crazythhbsrth on February 14, 2012, 10:27 GMT

    So we are replacing an aging wicket keeper who isn't a dominating batsman with an aging wicket keeper who isn't a dominating batsman. I think we are missing a big trick here, let us all hope Thami proves us wrong.

  • djdrastic on February 14, 2012, 9:06 GMT

    Gotta love the Quota system.We have a keeper in the domestic circuit who , one month ago scored over 150 and caught 10 catches and he still can't get into the squad.Maybe Vilas should start sleeping with the selectors to get a mention ?

  • Robster1 on February 14, 2012, 3:02 GMT

    Tsolekile - why oh why etc. Couldn't be due to quotas could it. Oh dear if so....What on earth does Kuhn have to do to earn a contract or chance. A deeply unimpressive selection.

  • the_wallster on February 13, 2012, 22:33 GMT

    and people wonder why south african players like rudolph, pietersen, trott etc. come over here to try and play international cricket, when the likes of boucher and de lange are dispensed with, only to replaced by unknowns with mediocre records. now you see why?

  • TheVoiceOfReason on February 13, 2012, 20:20 GMT

    Crisis, another Moonda article with mistakes. Before you write check the stats, when last did Smit bowl in a match!!!

    Come on people, see through the BS, not even Hudders can agree with the rubbish coming out of his mouth. It is a straight forward example of keeping politicians happy. Bosman out, Thami in, one black face who will never play for another. Just a waste of resources that could be spent on someone who will actually play! Thami got dropped from his franchise team this season!!!!! How stupid do CSA think the cricketing public are!!!!

    If it is not a political selection then how do you explain Thami gets a national contract having played no cricket for SA in the last 12 months and yet Marchant de Lange must hang ten when he has been a star....

  • MrGarreth on February 13, 2012, 19:38 GMT

    Some of you commenting on this obviously havent been watching Tsolekile for the past 3 seasons. Undoubtedly the best choice. His figures are phenomenal over that period. Better than Kuhn. Better than Vilas. Better than Van Wyk. So get over it. Jeez if youre going to be a stats generation at least be logical about it. Someone like TWIC throwing around a lot of stats. Kuhn has been far from consistent over the last year and de Kock's inflated average comes largely from playing provincial cricket which (unfortunately) counts as First-class cricket. I think there is something to be said for earning your spot which Thami has done. He went away, left the Cobras for the Lions and has been outstanding ever since. Congrats to him and age is only a number. I certainly dont believe Bouch should be dropped based on age. Quite simply those drops and his inconsistency with the bat when we already have a fragile tail has had me calling for a replacement. Great career he has had though.

  • BellCurve on February 13, 2012, 18:49 GMT

    I agree with the consensus view below. It just doesn't make sense. But I have to add I feel for Tsolekile. He is a good player. He is currently in the best form of his life. But he just doesn't fit into the bigger picture. Boucher should ride out another 1-2 years. And then the gloves should be handed to De Kock, provided of course that he continues to perform as he has in the last 12-18 months.

  • on February 13, 2012, 17:55 GMT

    I like and agree with TWIC's comment about Kuhn and De Kock, I think it is important to pick the best batsman as much as it is important to pick a very good keeper, any keeper who is keeping in 1st class cricket should be good enough so the batting is more important. Also why cant AB Devilliers keep in tests? he already holds the gloves in odi's and his game has got better since he started keeping in odi's. Also stick Rudolph in ODI team he has terrific strokeplay

  • on February 13, 2012, 17:32 GMT

    Samantha Groenstein is spot on, Vilas is clearly the most talented batsman, Smit us the best gloveman by a mile

  • duncanmoo on February 13, 2012, 17:24 GMT

    Fine, select him, test him, give him a chance, but a national contract before performing at international level? Come on! I really think we need a specialist keeper for tests and a batting keeper for ODIs and T20s, mix it up and give us a deeper pool of wickies.

  • on February 13, 2012, 17:13 GMT

    If CSA is doing this then most of the good players will choose england over sa

  • on February 13, 2012, 14:49 GMT

    lost all faith and confidence in Gary Kirsten and Andrew Hudson, waste of an oppertunity to pick Vilas or Smit, have not gone with the best gloveman or batsman. Wont be watching SA play again.

  • bestbuddy on February 13, 2012, 14:37 GMT

    Huh? The whole reason Bouchers place is in doubt is because he is not performing with the bat; Tsolekile has not scored a hundred in any form of the game in the past 3 seasons, and has only maintained a good average this year due to the higher number of not outs he gets from batting below the top 6/7, 7not outs in 15 innings. And Hudson is wrong in his statement, Tsolekile has averaged 50+ only this season (due to those not outs; his average would halve if he had been out each time). In the same period Vilas, Kuhn, van Wyk and Smit have all scored more runs and all made far more hundreds. Tsolekile has not been picked for his superior record...

  • Nuxxy on February 13, 2012, 14:26 GMT

    Tsolekile has a season or two at most to establish himself, otherwise Quinton de Kock will be the new gloveman.

  • Gordo85 on February 13, 2012, 14:26 GMT

    To me this could be a step backwards for South Africa going for Thami Tsolekile as a second keeper however I do think it will give other players like de Kock time to fine tune his skills and by that that he should be ready to play internationals for South Africa. McLaren must be disapointed since he has been going really well recently and must be thinking "What more do I need to do to start getting considered to play for South Africa again" Prince is lucky but I am glad to see he made the cut since I think sometime left in him yet. Wayne Parnell is a concern to me because everytime I see him play in recent times he hasn't taken wickets and I don't think he is up to it I would have gone for McLaren in his place but Parnell might prove me wrong and I am not fully 100% against him. South Africa do also need to start looking for some youth down the track but other than that I am pretty happy with things.

  • TWIC on February 13, 2012, 14:22 GMT

    NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO!!!!!!!!!!

    With a batting average of 21 and only 3 half centuries in one day matches, Tsolekile will be worse than useless. He's 31 already, and with Boucher being 35 I would hardly call Tsolekile a long term replacement.

    Why not Heino Kuhn who averages 44 in first class cricket and is 27? Why not Quinton de Kock, who is extremely young and already has a FC average of 63? Give a youngster like him a shot than a guy who is 12 years older than him.

    Can you imagine if we had a guy with a FC average of 44 or 63 coming in at no. 6 or 7?

  • LindaK on February 13, 2012, 14:19 GMT

    One of the great decision s.a selectors to include Thami as a next man to take gloves the man is good behind the wickets and the batting have improve a lot.

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  • LindaK on February 13, 2012, 14:19 GMT

    One of the great decision s.a selectors to include Thami as a next man to take gloves the man is good behind the wickets and the batting have improve a lot.

  • TWIC on February 13, 2012, 14:22 GMT

    NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO!!!!!!!!!!

    With a batting average of 21 and only 3 half centuries in one day matches, Tsolekile will be worse than useless. He's 31 already, and with Boucher being 35 I would hardly call Tsolekile a long term replacement.

    Why not Heino Kuhn who averages 44 in first class cricket and is 27? Why not Quinton de Kock, who is extremely young and already has a FC average of 63? Give a youngster like him a shot than a guy who is 12 years older than him.

    Can you imagine if we had a guy with a FC average of 44 or 63 coming in at no. 6 or 7?

  • Gordo85 on February 13, 2012, 14:26 GMT

    To me this could be a step backwards for South Africa going for Thami Tsolekile as a second keeper however I do think it will give other players like de Kock time to fine tune his skills and by that that he should be ready to play internationals for South Africa. McLaren must be disapointed since he has been going really well recently and must be thinking "What more do I need to do to start getting considered to play for South Africa again" Prince is lucky but I am glad to see he made the cut since I think sometime left in him yet. Wayne Parnell is a concern to me because everytime I see him play in recent times he hasn't taken wickets and I don't think he is up to it I would have gone for McLaren in his place but Parnell might prove me wrong and I am not fully 100% against him. South Africa do also need to start looking for some youth down the track but other than that I am pretty happy with things.

  • Nuxxy on February 13, 2012, 14:26 GMT

    Tsolekile has a season or two at most to establish himself, otherwise Quinton de Kock will be the new gloveman.

  • bestbuddy on February 13, 2012, 14:37 GMT

    Huh? The whole reason Bouchers place is in doubt is because he is not performing with the bat; Tsolekile has not scored a hundred in any form of the game in the past 3 seasons, and has only maintained a good average this year due to the higher number of not outs he gets from batting below the top 6/7, 7not outs in 15 innings. And Hudson is wrong in his statement, Tsolekile has averaged 50+ only this season (due to those not outs; his average would halve if he had been out each time). In the same period Vilas, Kuhn, van Wyk and Smit have all scored more runs and all made far more hundreds. Tsolekile has not been picked for his superior record...

  • on February 13, 2012, 14:49 GMT

    lost all faith and confidence in Gary Kirsten and Andrew Hudson, waste of an oppertunity to pick Vilas or Smit, have not gone with the best gloveman or batsman. Wont be watching SA play again.

  • on February 13, 2012, 17:13 GMT

    If CSA is doing this then most of the good players will choose england over sa

  • duncanmoo on February 13, 2012, 17:24 GMT

    Fine, select him, test him, give him a chance, but a national contract before performing at international level? Come on! I really think we need a specialist keeper for tests and a batting keeper for ODIs and T20s, mix it up and give us a deeper pool of wickies.

  • on February 13, 2012, 17:32 GMT

    Samantha Groenstein is spot on, Vilas is clearly the most talented batsman, Smit us the best gloveman by a mile

  • on February 13, 2012, 17:55 GMT

    I like and agree with TWIC's comment about Kuhn and De Kock, I think it is important to pick the best batsman as much as it is important to pick a very good keeper, any keeper who is keeping in 1st class cricket should be good enough so the batting is more important. Also why cant AB Devilliers keep in tests? he already holds the gloves in odi's and his game has got better since he started keeping in odi's. Also stick Rudolph in ODI team he has terrific strokeplay