Boucher set to stand up and be counted

South Africa wicketkeeper Mark Boucher on Thursday said he was ready to stand up on the slow West Indian pitches during the World Cup.

“I think standing up is something that all keepers expect when they come to the West Indies because these are like the subcontinent conditions when you have to do that sort of thing,” Boucher said.

South Africa, the world number one team, meet The Netherlands in their opening Group A match at Warner Park in St Kitts on Friday.

The 30-year-old Boucher is the second-best one-day wicket-keeper behind Australian Adam Gilchrist (423 dismissals) with 353 victims to his name.

As a hard-hitting batsman, Boucher has 3 607 runs with one hundred and 21 half-centuries.

Boucher hoped wicketkeeping on slow grounds would not be a problem and spin may come into play.

“It [spin] depends on the wickets we play on. Brian Lara didn’t even use his spinners,” said Boucher, referring to the West Indies’ 54-run win over Pakistan in the opening match at Sabina Park on Tuesday.

“But the ball seemed to spin a bit in the Australia-Scotland game; the wickets are still new so we have to see if spin’s going to be a big factor.”

South Africa’s group rivals Australia, the defending champions, got their campaign off to a resounding start when they beat Scotland by 203 runs on Wednesday.

Boucher praised Australia for being ruthless.

“Scotland didn’t put up a bad show, but Australia were very professional and clinical like they always are,” said Boucher of Ricky Ponting’s team, whom South Africa play in their crunch group match on March 24.

The two top teams qualify for the second round Super Eights.

“Getting through to the next stage is the challenge; we’ve had good practice and need to get the job done. We want to be clinical and professional and have learnt some hard lessons in the past World Cups.”

South Africa have never won the World Cup since their readmittance to international cricket in 1992.

Boucher was part of the South African team that was ousted from the 1999 tournament on run-rate after their semifinal with Australia ended in a tie.

And he was batting in the match against Sri Lanka when they were ousted in the first round on home soil in 2003 when there was a misunderstanding of the rain rules.

Boucher was confident that disposing of The Netherlands would not be a big problem on Friday.

“We are a lot better side than them on paper.
They have two or three dangerous players, but if we go out there and concentrate on what we can do, there should be no problem.”—AFP.

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