London: AB de Villiers is all set to keep wicket for South Africa in next week's first Test against England following the freak injury that ended experienced gloveman Mark Boucher's international career. The 35-year-old Boucher, whose tally of 555 dismissals from 147 Tests is a world record, saw his South Africa career cut short when hit in the eye by a bail during the Proteas' tour opener against Somerset earlier this week and has since returned home.
South Africa called up Thami Tsolekile as a replacement but de Villiers, a specialist batsman who has kept wicket at international level, is expected to take over behind the stumps for at least the first Test at The Oval. "We are still deciding on the tactics," the 28-year-old de Villiers, who kept in only the second of his now 74 Tests, told Sky Sports on Thursday."I am very excited as I have always been up for challenges," he added at Canterbury, south-east England, where the Proteas face Kent in a three-day match starting Friday.
"Whatever is best for the team and maybe it is that I take the gloves. I don't think it leaves us with a bad balance and it probably opens up an extra spot for another batsman or bowler. I have really been working on my keeping," de Villiers insisted. "I have been keeping in the IPL (Indian Premier League) and in the ODIs and T20s for the Proteas. I feel as though I am improving with the gloves."
South Africa can displace England as the world's number one Test side during the course of this three-match series but they will go into the Oval clash on ther back of a maximum of five days' cricket on tour. "Maybe we will be a bit undercooked and we would have liked to have played a couple of Test matches against whoever coming into the series but you have got to take what you get," said de Villiers.
"I think both batting line-ups will be under pressure in the series, (they are) two of the best bowling attacks in the world I believe. We have lots of respect for the English team for what they have achieved over the last few years. Andrew Strauss (England captain) and Andy Flower (coach) have done an amazing job with the team, we know it's going to be a hard-fought series. We are looking forward to the challenge, we know the number one spot is up for grabs and to achieve something like that would be a great thing so we will go out all guns blazing and hopefully we will come out on top."