Dane Vilas has answered an SOS-call from the national selectors to replace AB De Villiers, who is on paternity leave, in the South African test squad for the tour of Bangladesh. Vilas will act as reserve-keeper for Quinton De Kock. Vilas says: ‘I was quite shocked and very surprised when Andrew Hudson (chairman of the national selectors) called me on Monday.’
The 29-year old wicketkeeper of the Cape Cobras scored 499 runs in the Sunfoil Series in the 2014/2015-season. He also averaged 55.5 in the Momentum One Day Cup competition. Vilas says: ‘Obviously, if I was to be selected for South Africa in a case of injury, it would be the fulfilment of a dream for me. It would be the pinnacle of my career if I am drafted into the SA team for a test against Bangladesh. But I will prepare as if I am going to play.’
Vilas is an attacking middle-order batsman who can be destructive when he gets into his stride, and was a stand-out performer for the Cobras the past few years. Last season, he was arguably their best middle-order batsman in the One Day Cup competition. His first-class average of 41, with 10 centuries, underlines his ability with the bat.
Vilas says: ‘I am quite pleased with my development as wicket-keeper the past few seasons. I have worked hard on drills and on watching footage on YouTube to improve. I have also touched base often with Ryan Cook and Wendell Bossenger to evolve as a wicketkeeper. A few seasons ago when Mark Boucher was at the Cape Cobras, I also discussed my wicket-keeping skills and ways to improve at length with him.’ Vilas says he feels younger than his 29 years and hopes to continue for a number of years. Players like Justin Kemp, who is the 37, and Neil McKenzie, who was 39 when he retired, have shown that age is just a number in the first-class arena.