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Thu Apr 17 06:15:23 SAST 2014

Thami takes record in stride

SBU MJIKELISO at Kingsmead | 09 July, 2012 07:280 Comments
Thami Tsolekile takes a return from a fielder during the first unofficial test between South Africa A and Sri Lanka A at Kingsmead in Durban last week

SOUTH Africa A wicketkeeper Thami Tsolekile didn't read much into his record-equalling eight dismissals in a first-class innings against Sri Lanka A at Kingsmead on Saturday.

But he was pleased with his reliable glove work in Durban.

Tsolekile joined Eastern Province's Athi Dyili and the Free State's Rudi Second as joint record holder for the most catches in an innings by a South African wicketkeeper in a match where SA A had largely been on the back foot.

"I was quite fortunate to take those catches; the credit must also go to the bowlers for doing all the hard work," Tsolekile said.

"What was special about taking those catches was that four of the eight were diving catches and weren't regulation catches.

"As a cricketer you always strive to get the records and play at your best."

Sri Lanka A ended the third day on 217-3 with a comfortable 263-run lead over the hosts. SA A were bowled out for 290 in the first innings, 46 runs short of the Sri Lankans' first innings total of 336.

Widely touted as long-serving Proteas wicketkeeper Mark Boucher's successor, Tsolekile received a vote of confidence from the national selectors, who awarded him a national contract for the 2012-2013 season earlier this year.

Boucher had said he was likely to retire at the end of the Proteas tour to England, but he appears to have considered stretching his retirement date to the conclusion of the tour of Australia later this year.

It's a view backed by the Proteas not taking a specialist wicketkeeper to England as Boucher's back-up .

But Tsolekile maintained that his contract didn't guarantee Proteas selection.

"You'd like to think so now that I've been given a contract; people will assume that I'm probably the next in line," Tsolekile replied when asked about the possibility of stepping into Boucher's shoes.

"But these days there are no guarantees, so getting that contract will not make me relax. I still have to do the hard work and make sure that I stay on top of my game."

Tsolekile has been in steady batting form for the Lions and averaged 59.50 in last season's Supersport Series, second only to opening batsman Alviro Petersen (62.76) at the franchise.

"The contract wasn't an over-night achievement; I've obviously put in the hard yards," the 31-year-old said.

"I've been involved with the Lions for three seasons and have had a very good couple of seasons with the bat during my time there, averaging in the 50s and 60s.

"Thanks must go to the selectors for backing me, but the next step for me is to make sure I'm ready to play for South Africa if the opportunity comes.

"I feel good about my game. They say in batting the older you get the more you get to know your game. I'm at a stage where I know exactly what I'm doing now compared to when I made my [first-class] debut at age 23. I've been around and I've played more than 100 first-class games so I know exactly what is expected of me."

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Thami takes record in stride

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