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March 5, 2012
Mark Boucher is likely to announce his retirement after South Africa's tour of England in July this year.
"I would like to go England and then start a process of trying to get another keeper involved. I think I've still got a lot to offer in that department," Boucher, who is part of South Africa's Test squad touring New Zealand, told ESPNcricinfo. "My body is getting a little sore, to be honest. The back is starting to play up a bit. If I can manage myself form-wise and it all goes to plan, then after England I will probably look at my career and my retirement."
Although South Africa have not picked their squad to England yet, Boucher was hopeful of being included, depending on his performances in New Zealand. He has been on three tours to England, and said his experience could merit a fourth visit.
"I am pretty well-equipped mentally for what's going to happen," he said. "Even the English keepers will tell you that in England you will drop the odd ball. You just have to try and hold on to the catches, because it does move around there a lot."
Boucher has been South Africa's premier wicketkeeper for 15 years and has only missed three Tests since making his debut in 1997.
His first tour to England, in 1998, Boucher said, played an important part in his overall development. "When I first went there, it was a big eye-opener for me in terms of my technique. I thought keeping in South Africa on some occasions was quite difficult but it's actually a lot harder keeping in England. The second time I went there [in 2003] was actually a lot easier because I wasn't blind to what I was going to do and it went a lot better for me. Hopefully, third time round I will be able to keep even better."
If selected, Boucher will have to play the dual role of keeper and mentor, as Cricket South Africa - which, for the first time since it introduced contracts in 1998, signed a second wicketkeeper for the 2012-13 season - prepares for life without him.
Thami Tsolekile, who took over from Boucher in 2004, has been earmarked as his successor once again, but Andrew Hudson, the convenor of selectors, said Tsolekile was not guaranteed a place in the national side simply by virtue of his contract and that other keepers around the country, such as Heino Kuhn and Dane Vilas, are all eligible for selection.
Hudson said Boucher would groom his successor; the process for appointing one is likely to start on the England tour, for which the panel will consider sending two keepers.
Although he has not clearly identified a replacement, Boucher has helped monitor the situation at his own franchise, the Cobras, where he has played a part in Vilas' development.
"I've been working hard with Dane Vilas. He's extremely talented," he said. "He has a couple of things to do as a keeper but he is improving every day and improving fast. As a batter he could fit into any side. He is extremely talented, he is aggressive, which is just perfect for Twenty20, one-day and Test cricket. I'm not saying he is the next guy to take over but he certainly has potential."
For now, Boucher said he is focused on the tour of New Zealand, which could set the tone for South Africa's next year of travel. Boucher arrived with the remaining members of the Test squad last Thursday, and as one of only four players to have been to New Zealand before, on the 2004 tour, is looking forward to the challenge a second time around.
"We haven't been to New Zealand for a long time and it looks like the conditions have changed a lot from the past. It looks like there might be a bit of assistance for our bowlers. New Zealand are very similar to us in the way that they walk around, they are very confident, bordering on arrogant, which is a good thing. It will be a good contest."
Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondentFeeds: Firdose Moonda
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