South Africa are liable to take the conservative approach when appointing a replacement for Mark Boucher as they look to get their Test series with England off to the perfect start on July 19th.
It is 11/4 in the cricket odds that South Africa triumph at the Oval and the decision facing selectors is whether to call up understudy Thami Tsolekile or take a chance and allow one-day keeper AB De Villiers to also stand behind the stumps in the Test arena.
The tour of England was already anticipated to be Boucher’s last, but he has been sent home before it really begun after undergoing eye surgery.
Boucher was struck in the eye by a dislodged bail during the opening day of South Africa’s warm-up match with Somerset as Imran Tahir bowled Gemaal Hussain.
Tsolekile has not featured for South Africa since 2004, but is widely considered to be Boucher’s successor and so this would represent a suitable opportunity to pass over the baton.
However, with the world number one Test ranking up for grabs, South Africa may opt for De Villiers, which would also allow them to name another specialist batsman in their line-up.
Jacques Kallis has returned to face Somerset after missing the final game of the last series in March with New Zealand, but new opener Alviro Peterson has sat out with a foot problem.
Peterson and captain Graeme Smith were the two top run scorers in the New Zealand series and South Africa will want this pair to set solid foundations again against England to put pressure on the hosts.
However, if South Africa do decide to pick Tsolekile then it would seem that either JP Duminy or Jacques Rudolph would be sacrificed.
England’s odds are 2/1 to win the first Test, with the draw available at 11/10.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.