In the second instalment of a three-part series, SA Cricket magazine’s writers pick their best post-isolation Proteas Test XI.
GARY LEMKE: All the signs are that Quinton de Kock would break every Test wicketkeeping record that Mark Boucher set if Test cricket’s roster allowed it. In only 84 innings, against Boucher’s 279 – 30.1% – De Kock has taken 202 catches (36% of Boucher’s 532), 11 stumpings (48% of Boucher’s 23) and has an average of 2.4 dismissals per innings to Boucher’s 1.98.
As a batsman De Kock has already equalled Boucher’s five Test hundreds although he’s played 99 fewer Tests. At the age of 27 he is destined to become one of the wicketkeeping greats. However, Boucher does have added bragging rights in that he has one Test wicket as a bowler and it’s impossible to ignore his longevity behind the stumps before his career was brought to a premature end.
So, until De Kock breaks those records – unlikely given the dwindling number of Tests being played – Boucher goes down as the ‘best’ wicketkeeper since isolation. However, I was sorely tempted to include De Kock either in the top six batsmen since readmission, or as the keeper. Playing ‘only’ 47 Tests has counted against him, for now.
JON CARDINELLI: This is a no-brainer. Mark Boucher completed 555 dismissals during a Test career that spanned 15 years. No wicketkeeper – in South Africa or abroad – is likely to threaten that record in the near future.
Boucher will be remembered for more than his sharp glovework, though. Like Graeme Smith and Jacques Kallis, he possessed a bulldog tenacity that served him and South Africa well in challenging situations.
Boucher scored five centuries and 35 50s during his 146-Test career. He played many more valuable innings, however, chipping in with a 30 or 40 here and there to steer South Africa out of trouble.
WADE PRETORIUS: I’m grateful for Andre picking Quinton de Kock ‘over’ the current head coach. I am going to do that, too. Craig messed with the formula and thus gets no praise from me. But in saying that, Craig picked De Kock, or Quinny as most fans refer to the blitzing left-hander as, as a standalone batsman and thus should come into my XI.
I have always been a massive Boucher fan, from his early playing days down the road at Border, to his dogged fighting spirit which helped drag the Proteas over the line on so many occasions. A better wicketkeeper, yes, but Quinny is no slouch with the gloves and remains a world-class batsman. Adam Gilchrist would be in any Australian’s XI, so then his protege must be in my team.
CRAIG LEWIS: Most of my colleagues here are understandably having to debate between choosing either De Kock or Boucher. Thankfully, I have managed to avoid this dilemma by picking the Proteas’ current limited-overs captain as a specialist batsman in the top six.
So that leaves me with the obvious pick of ‘Bouch’ as my keeper and a set of cricketers in my top seven who are all capable of scoring some serious runs, while also boasting a typically South African fighting spirit – none more so than Mark Boucher.
JONHENRY WILSON: As much as one appreciates the attacking flair and sound glove work De Kock has brought to the Test XI, Mark Boucher still has no rival. The epitome of South African zeal and steel, it’s only right that Boucher is now the Proteas head coach, too.
ANDRE HUISAMEN: The past two seasons have seen a matured Quinton de Kock come good. He has long evolved from the flashy and all-guns-blazing player that broke on to the scene in the 2013. His leadership has also been under the spotlight the past few months and under tough circumstances, I think he has proven more than his worth.
With all due respect to Mark Boucher, who can also easily have my vote, I am going to go with De Kock.
The left-hander is a better batsman, arguably the Proteas’ best in all formats, and has been carrying the weight of a failing team on his shoulders for some time now. The way he makes scoring runs look so easy is quite unique and the fact that he can almost bat anywhere in the lineup shows his versatility.
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