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The beginning of the end for Boucher?

Last updated on: May 19, 2010 17:38 IST

De Villiers to take over SA's wicketkeeping duties

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AB de Villiers will take over wicketkeeping duties from Mark Boucher for the limited-overs series against the West Indies.

South Africa captain Graeme Smith announced the decision, saying it was prompted by the team's focus on next year's World Cup in the subcontinent.

"AB (de Villiers) will be starting with the gloves in the limited-overs matches," confirmed Smith, ahead of the first Twenty20 international in Antigua.

"There is a new selection committee and a few new ideas. We only have something like 15 ODIs before we get to India for the World Cup, so we have to make every one of them count."

South Africa take on the West Indies in back-to-back Twenty20 internationals on May 19 and 20 before a five-ODI series, starting May 22.


Image: Mark Boucher
Photographs: Reuters
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Boucher has stood the test of time

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The move to axe Boucher has been debated for quite some time now, but the idea was not put in place because of de Villiers's insistence on concentrating on his batting.

While the decision of the new selection committee, headed by former opening batsman Andrew Hudson, may not go down well in the South African camp, as Boucher is a senior player, who since his debut in 1997 has played 131 Tests, 291 ODIs and 25 Twenty20s, it could also spell the beginning of the end of an impressive career.

Boucher is in his 13th year in international cricket. Since replacing Dave Richardson, against Pakistan in 1997, he's always been South Africa's first-choice wicketkeeper.

The 33-year-old holds the record for most dismissals in Test cricket -- 494, which includes 472 catches, 22 stumpings.

Having originally taken over the record from former Australia stumper Ian Healy in October 2007, he lost it subsequently to Adam Gilchrist, another Australian, only to regain it in February 2008, against Bangladesh.

In a long and illustrious career, he also has more than 5, 000 Test runs and five centuries to his name.


Image: Mark Boucher

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De Villiers will give SA more options

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Smith said de Villiers doubling up as wicketkeeper-batsman will give the Proteas more options.

"When a guy (like Boucher) has played over 300 ODIs you are always going to miss that experience. He has been a talisman of the side for a long period of time now.

"He has been part of a core group of senior players who have performed regularly and the selectors have taken the decision now to look ahead at some new options and certainly having AB to keep allows you one or two extra options in the line-up."


Image: AB de Villiers

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