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Ken Borland

Kuhn inching his way into national wicketkeeping contention

Posted on January 01, 2013 by Ken

Heino Kuhn’s prospects of becoming the South African national team wicketkeeper hinge on the form and fitness of a couple of other players right now, but the 28-year-old is inching his way closer and closer to the side through sheer weight of runs.

AB de Villiers currently holds the gloves in all three formats, but one of the world’s most talented batsmen has not scored a century at international level in nine months and has recurring back problems.

Thami Tsolekile is his official understudy on tour in Australia but there seems to be a lack of confidence in his batting, with his first-class average being 29.01.

Kuhn, on the other hand, has a first-class batting average of 46.17 but his appearances for South Africa have thus far been limited to five T20 internationals, in which he has batted four times but only once come to the crease with more than four overs left in the innings.

But the Titans batsman believes the time is now for him to step up and claim the mantle as Mark Boucher’s long-term successor.

“I’ve definitely made the wicketkeeping place in the national side my goal for the season, my whole thinking heading into the season was about getting into the Proteas side,” Kuhn admitted to Business Day on Wednesday.

And, right now, Kuhn is in superb form with the bat as well. He has scored 107 and 41 in his two Momentum One-Day Cup innings and averaged 101.50 in the Titans’ two Sunfoil Series four-day matches this season.

Mother Cricket has the tendency, however, to get her own back on players who think too far ahead and Kuhn stressed that, although the national team was a very definite goal, he was focusing on performing for his team first.

“I’m not breaking my head worrying about why I’m not in the national team, I’m just going out there to enjoy every game and help my team win trophies. Personally, I’ve been batting well and I scored a century in my last game, but we weren’t happy with the way we played as a team in the first two four-day matches and we made a bad start to the one-day competition,” Kuhn said.

Whether De Villiers, one of South Africa’s key top-order batsmen, should even be keeping wicket is debatable with many of the owners of the sharpest cricketing brains around saying the workload is too much.

But Kuhn is happy to take on the responsibility of both gloveman and specialist batsman.

“I love to open the batting, especially in four-day cricket, and seeing off the new ball is always a good feeling. There are always a lot of gaps at the start of the innings, so any time you pierce the infield, you get four runs.

“But it is hard work keeping wicket as well and that’s why I float up and down the order with the Titans. If I had to play for South Africa, I’d probably only bat seven or eight, but that’s basically the same as opening the batting because you’ll be up against the second new ball,” Kuhn said.

The Affies product is also the owner of one of the best pair of hands in the country and, as a package, certainly warrants a look from the national selectors.


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