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Ken Borland

‘Don’t delay Boucher’s successor’ – Jennings

Posted on August 02, 2012 by Ken

Former national coach Ray Jennings has called on the South African team management to not delay choosing wicketkeeper Mark Boucher’s successor.

Jennings, the guru of wicketkeeping in the country, believes current wicketkeeper AB de Villiers does not want the job permanently.

“Ideally, we want to choose a wicketkeeper for the next two or three years and I’m not sure AB is the man for that job. His back is a problem and it’s not his dream to be a wicketkeeper/batsman. I do know that he wants to be a number four batsman and the number one batsman in the world.

“So I see AB as a short-term solution and I presume the selectors will make the call for a long-term wicketkeeper before the next series,” Jennings told on Wednesday.

The former Mean Machine Transvaal gloveman was firm in his support of Thami Tsolekile, currently on tour with the national team in England but not used in the first test, as Boucher’s long-term successor.

“It’s important to have a specialist wicketkeeper in test cricket, but you also don’t want someone who’s not producing with the bat. I know some people say Tsolekile has a lame record with the bat, but he’s averaging about 45 in the last few years. He’s done as much at franchise level as someone like Morne Morkel and he’s a top-class gloveman, our best. He was picked in 2004 and now it’s time to justify that selection,” Jennings said.

Batsman Dean Elgar is another who is hoping to make a breakthrough at international level, having received a call-up into the ODI squad as Jacques Kallis takes a well-deserved rest.

Elgar is, of course, also a handy left-arm spinner and he sees himself as someone who can step into the role of a batting all-rounder.

“Look, no one can fill Jacques Kallis’s boots, but I like to think I could bat three for the national team and be the batsman that bats through the innings and bowls a few overs,” Elgar told in Pretoria.

The 25-year-old was chosen in the ODI squad to play Sri Lanka earlier this year but suffered a knee ligament injury before the start of the series, so he is in line to make his international debut in England. Not that he is feeling the pressure.

“It’s very nice to get the call again, the first time wasn’t very lucky but maybe the second bite of the cherry will be! I’m definitely ready for it and wherever I bat, I’m just going to enjoy it, England is one of the best places in the world to play cricket,” Elgar said.

People have likened the gritty left-hander’s style to Justin Langer or Kepler Wessels (although he is less keen on that comparison), but he can also be a fluent strokeplayer and has been connected to some of the Chevrolet Knights’ best limited-overs triumphs, being the leading run-scorer in last season’s Franchise One-Day Cup and steering his team to the semi-finals.

As luck would have it, Elgar won’t be carrying great form to England, having scored just 16 runs in his last five innings for South Africa A.

“That’s cricket! But I’m still in form, I scored 171 in the innings before that. I’m happy with my form, technically I feel I’m the best I’ve ever been. I always thrive on opportunity and I just have to knuckle down and be ready to make that mental switch because I’m going into a tough environment,” Elgar said.

The Welkom product is initially travelling to England with the SA A team and will be able to get plenty of time at the crease in two four-day games against Ireland from August 6-9 and August 13-16. There will then be three one-day matches against the World Cup surprise packets for Elgar to get into limited-overs mode ahead of the first ODI against England on August 24.

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