TELFORD VICE, Cape Town
THERE is no truth in the rumour that Ray Jennings and Dave Richardson are considering comebacks, neither that Mark Boucher is hard at training for the new season.
But they would be forgiven for trying to remember where they had hung up their gloves and pads, what with Morne van Wyk’s recall on Tuesday for the two T20s and three one-day internationals SA will play against New Zealand this month.
If Van Wyk can crack the nod at 36 Jennings, Richardson and Boucher might also in with a shot.
Perhaps not. Jennings is 60 and Richardson 55, and although Boucher is in the ballpark at 38 he was forced out of cricket by an eye injury.
But it is just as true that Van Wyk is a silver stumper. In fact, he is the oldest active regular wicketkeeper-batsmen in SA franchise cricket. However, he is also among the best in the game.
In October Van Wyk scored an undefeated 175 to help the Dolphins beat the Knights by 10 wickets in a One-Day Cup match in Bloemfontein. Cameron Delport made 169 not out and the unbroken stand of 367 is a world record for any wicket in one-day cricket.
In January Van Wyk smashed 114 not out in SA’s 69-run win in a T20 against West Indies at Kingsmead.
He reached at least 50 in seven of his 13 first-class innings for the Dolphins last season, scoring two centuries and averaging 79.33 – the best performance with the bat by any wicketkeeper in the 2014-15 franchise first-class competition.
All of which led to a minor clamour for Van Wyk’s inclusion in SA’s World Cup squad. He missed out and also did not make the tour to Bangladesh.
But Quinton de Kock’s axing, AB De Villiers’ return from paternity leave, JP Duminy’s absence from the ODI series due to imminent fatherhood and David Wiese’s inclusion have cleared the way for Wiese’s return – in the one-dayers at least.
“We are grateful for AB accepting that he will keep in the T20s,” selection convenor Linda Zondi said on Tuesday. “It’s good for the balance of the team.
“We didn’t want to destruct the batting line-up and especially the middle order. We’re looking at David Wiese as a batting allrounder at No. 7: losing JP, it’s important to have someone like him in the middle order. To have Morne (batting) up front gives us a good balance.”
Russell Domingo elaborated: “AB finds it extremely challenging keeping wicket, batting No. 4 and captaining the side. Of all the formats, he finds the ODIs the most mentally and physically draining – I don’t want the best batsman in the world to cramp.
“We know Morne van Wyk can do the job, and 36 is still a good age for a T20 cricketer.”
Also missing from the ODI squad that did duty in Bangladesh are Ryan McLaren, Morne Morkel – who is also about to become a father – Chris Morris and Wayne Parnell.
Beuran Hendricks, Morris and Parnell are the other casualties from the previous T20 squad.
ODI: AB de Villiers (captain), Kyle Abbott, Hashim Amla, Farhaan Behardien, Faf du Plessis, Imran Tahir, David Miller, Aaron Phangiso, Vernon Philander, Kagiso Rabada, Rilee Rossouw, Dale Steyn, Morne van Wyk, David Wiese.
T20: Faf du Plessis (captain), Kyle Abbott, Hashim Amla, Farhaan Behardien, AB de Villiers, JP Duminy, Eddie Leie, David Miller, Morne Morkel, Aaron Phangiso, Kagiso Rabada, Rilee Rossouw, Morne van Wyk, David Wiese.