De Villiers: Helmets a necessity
AB de Villiers believes the time has come for all wicketkeepers to wear helmets when standing up to the stumps, following his former South Africa team-mate Mark Boucher's career-ending eye injury.
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De Villiers, like the rest of Graeme Smith's touring team, has been deeply affected by the horrific incident at Taunton four days ago - in which Boucher was struck in the left eye by a flying bail.
South Africa, who on Friday begin their final warm-up match before the first npower Test against England, must therefore get by without their veteran wicketkeeper - while Boucher waits, back home, to discover whether he will retain the sight in his eye.
Setting inevitable emotion aside for a moment, De Villiers - set to keep wicket against Kent at Canterbury over the next three days and expecting to do so at The Oval next week as well - makes it clear he will never stand up without all available protection.
"I really always try and wear a helmet unless it's really, really low and slow," he said.
"Mark always wears a helmet as well. So the reason he didn't have a helmet on that day, I don't know.
"It was a freakish accident that happened. But I will definitely have a helmet on, like I always do."
The grille on a standard batting or wicketkeeping helmet would be highly likely to prevent a flying bail getting through to the eye, as it did Boucher's after Imran Tahir bowled Gemaal Hussain with a googly.
"I think ... going forward, helmet companies will start investing in proper wicketkeeping helmets, maybe a different design," said De Villiers.
"I think they're busy with a design as we speak."
Before that work comes to fruition, De Villiers must make sure he is up to the job of doubling up as wicketkeeper and middle-order batsman.
In front of the stumps, he appears to be thankful for one thing - the absence of the retired Andrew Flintoff, from what is an outstanding attack even without him.
"Flintoff is not there any more - thank goodness for that," he said.
"He was one of the best bowlers I ever faced.
"(Stuart) Broad has improved a lot, (James) Anderson ... they're all good bowlers ... (Tim) Bresnan even, and (Steven) Finn - who I haven't seen a lot of.
"They're a very balanced attack - even Swanny [Graeme Swann], who's a very attacking off-spin bowler. He takes a lot of wickets.
"They're probably the two best bowling line-ups in the world, and both batting line-ups are going to have a lot to think about over the next few months."