Give Thami the gloves

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By Stuart Hess

Johannesburg – When Gary Kirsten first decided to employ AB de Villiers as the Test wicketkeeper in England it was very much an emergency measure.

The horrific incident that ended Mark Boucher’s career meant Kirsten needed a stop-gap ahead of the series with England. That naturally led to De Villiers donning the gloves for the three Tests against the English.

Following that series Kirsten mentioned that he wanted De Villiers to continue as the Test side’s wicketkeeper for the series in Australia. The benefits of De Villiers ’keeping are obvious – two all-rounders batting in the top five meant Kirsten and Graeme Smith were able to pick an extra batsman (as they did for the England series) or an extra bowler.

JP Duminy’s contribution with the bat in the Lord’s Test underscored the value of playing seven batsmen.

However, in the same way that Boucher’s injury necessitated a change and led to a structural change in the side, so should Duminy’s desperately unfortunate injury lead to a return to a more established ’keeper for the second Test against Australia at the Adelaide Oval.

Thami Tsolekile should play ahead of Faf du Plessis and Dean Elgar, because he is better suited to what South Africa will need in that Test. Are Du Plessis and Elgar better batsmen? Yes. But their form this year – especially Du Plessis, who is being mentioned as a likely starter in Adelaide – has been iffy.

Tsolekile has played first class cricket this season and his first innings half-century in the Sunfoil Series match against the Dolphins at the Wanderers at the start of October really should allay fears about his readiness for a return to the Test side.

Tsolekile came to the crease with the Highveld Lions 76/5 on a difficult first day track at the “Bullring” and made 70 in just under three hours helping to steer the Lions to a reasonable first innings total which their bowlers turned into a lead and ultimately a win.

Tsolekile’s inclusion in the starting side has become something of a political football recently, which is unfortunate. It shouldn’t be, because measured purely on “cricketing value” he deserves to be in the starting side for the Adelaide Test ahead of Du Plessis and Elgar.

He’s showed form in the four-day game whereas Du Plessis hasn’t, and in matches for SA, Du Plessis hasn’t performed well.

If Tsolekile doesn’t play in the second Test it will be a mistake on Kirsten and Smith’s part, his presence will make the South African team better. – The Star

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