Confident de Villiers poised to fill breach
AB de Villiers believes his wicketkeeping is stronger than ever and he is ready to take the gloves in the Investec Tests with England.
South Africa’s vice-captain was expected to continue as a specialist batsman in the three-game rubber, but Mark Boucher’s international career-ending eye injury has meant de Villiers is likely to be behind the stumps when the series begins a week today.
The 28-year-old has kept wicket in three of his 74 Tests, the last time being in February 2010 versus India at Kolkata.
However, he is used to that role in one-day and Twenty20 internationals as well as for Royal Challengers Bangalore in the Indian Premier League.
“I’m looking forward to it,” he said. “I’ve kept most of the year. I’m keeping in ODIs and T20s; I’ve kept at the IPL.
“I’m probably keeping better than I’ve ever kept in my life before and I’m feeling good in the body.
“The back’s not giving me any issues so I would like to take the gloves. It’s just a matter of our whole gameplan and how we strategise to take on the English.”
De Villiers would have batted in South Africa’s middle-order and, even if he finds himself a place or two lower, he expects to cope with the dual responsibility.
“I bat low enough at five or six or even seven. It’s an ideal position for a wicketkeeper to bat,” he added ahead of the three-day tour game with Kent at Canterbury from tomorrow.
“I haven’t batted higher than five in the last few years. I’m pretty much ready to take on anything. If anything, as a wicketkeeper, you don’t run a lot so I’ll be nice and fresh to take the bat after I’ve kept.”
De Villiers played in the drawn tour match with Somerset this week, beginning as a specialist batsman and taking over the keeping duties from Boucher who was hit in the left eye by a flying bail when Imran Tahir bowled Gemaal Hussain.
“I was on the field when it happened,” he said. “It was a disastrous moment in my career, never mind his.
“Obviously it’s a huge blow for him. Mark was there when I started my career so it’s quite sad for him to go like that. I think he had a lot to offer still in South African cricket, but that’s done now.
“Looking back at his career, he had an amazing time in South African cricket; he did a lot for the game and he meant a lot to my cricketing career as well. So we’re going to miss him, but things have got to move forward and we’ve got a lot to achieve in this series.”