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Contrasting moods in Eng & SA camps Published: 11 July 2012

England's joy at their 4-0 victory over old enemy Australia contrasted sharply to the sadness at the loss of Mark Boucher for tourists South Africa.

As England celebrated another comfortable victory over Australia at Old Trafford - their last international before taking on South Africa - their opponents were facing the reality of a first England Test series without Boucher available since 1995.

Boucher's eye injury was sustained in the most unfortunate of circumstances when a bail struck him after Imran Tahir took his first wicket of the tour in day one of their draw with Somerset. While Boucher's close friend Jacques Kallis rightly said that the incident was "not about cricket any more," the tourists have little time before the battle for number one Test status kicks off at the Oval.

Gary Kirsten, Iadia's 2011 World Cup winning coach who played alongside Boucher and is now the man tasked with finding his replacement as Proteas coach, has moved quickly.

Despite the adding of Thami Tsolekile to the squad, he confirmed that AB de Villiers, the ODI captain, would be the man in operation behind the stumps for the Oval at least.

Succession planning for a wicket-keeper with 999 international dismissals is always going to be tricky, and only such a freak injury has denied Boucher the opportunity to reach his 150th appearance at Lord's this summer before ceremonially bowing out of the game.

de Villiers is a wonderful batsman and natural fieldsman in all positions, who has played three of his 74 Tests and 37 ODIs as a 'keeper. It's yet to be seen whether the 28-year-old's crucial, aggressive middle-order batting will suffer with the extra burden, but interestingly he he averages more than 80 when in possession of the gloves in ODIs, having scored 8 of his 13 centuries as the designated 'keeper in around a third of his appearances.

Tsolekile and de Villiers were the two men used against England in 2004/05 when Boucher was dropped for the first time in his career. Now 31, Tsolekile is an improved cricketer on the one who fell away from the international scene quickly afterwards, but consistent domestic performances have brought him back into the fold.

England meanwhile will be enjoying their week of preparation after yet another challenge during this wet summer was comfortably chalked off. Rain at Edgbaston might have denied them the chance to overtake Australia as the number one ODI side, but attentions can now be turned to the next battle - defending their number one Test status.


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