Tuesday, 7 February 2012

New Zealand on Friday: What AB sees ahead for South Africa's Proteas

AVERAGING A TON: Protea's ODI captain AB de Villiers
AB de Villiers admits to making a few interesting discoveries as South Africa’s new limited overs captain heads to New Zealand on Friday for his second series in charge.
The man known as “Abbas” in the dressing room generally impressed as a rookie skipper during a 3-2 win over Sri Lanka on home soil last month.
And the 27-year-old Titans star flies out for his first away series in charge of the Proteas insisting: “Our dream is to be ranked the best side in the world. To win a World Cup.”
AB was Man of the Series against Sri Lanka, scoring 329 runs in five knocks at an average of 109.66. Clearly captaincy agrees with him. With Australian legend Steve Waugh recommending current South African Test captain Graeme Smith should stand down - like Ricky Ponting, six years his senior - to work on his batting, AB could be in for major upheavals in future months.
As he packed his bags for the long flight to the Land of the Long White Cloud, he said: “Captaincy is hard work but I’m enjoying it and it’s great that I’m leading by example at the moment.
“I know I will get my tough patches in the future and I’ll have to work through that, but I’m playing well at the moment and using that to my advantage.
“I’m still following the same game plans but ­timing it a bit sweeter than normal.”
De Villiers has come to one major realisation:
“I discovered that the guys feed off my energy and it’s very important for me to be calm and in control the whole ­time.
“Leading from the front, not only with bat in hand, and with catch­ing and so on, but the way I present myself out there, has a big influence.
10/02: Depart
15/02: WU Canterbury
17/02: T20 Wellington
19/02: T20 Hamilton
22/02: T20 Auckland
25/02: ODI Wellington
29/02: ODI Napier
03/03: ODI Auckland
07/03: Test Dunedin
15/03: Test Hamilton
23/03: Test Wellington
“It was really tough at times but I think it’s one of the most important things that I learned.”
And as for tactics: “There is no set plan, we will play it by ear on the day.
“Coach Gary Kirsten and I decide which individual is best suited to the situation and he will go out and bat.
“We’ll just mix it up as right- and lefthand combinations are also important when a spinner is bowling well, and it makes it a bit tougher for the spinner to settle.”
Pretoria-born Abraham Benjamin de Villiers is aware that some of the players still call Graeme Smith skipper on the field, but AB recognises that as habit rather than harking  back to the past.
His penchant for fooling the Sri Lankans with the use of Afrikaans (he issues a constant stream of information in the near-Dutch language of his schooldays) may fail against the Kiwis, who have two South Africans in their squad, long-term emigrant BJ Watling and Kruger van Wyk, a former Seuns Hoer wicketkeeper who has spent the last four years in New Zealand.
AB admits: “New Zealand is a new challenge and our next goal.
“Obviously our long term goals are being No 1 in the world and winning a world cup.
“That’s a huge dream for all of us and hopefully we’ll get there, but for now, we’ll just focus on getting ready for the New Zealand tour and performing well there.
“Our goal against Sri Lanka was to win both the tests and the ODIs and we did that.”
But it's the Test matches which will grab the cricket-speaking world's attention. With England crushed 3-0 by Pakistan in the United Arab Emirates - perhaps the most inept performance by a side ranked No1 ever recorded - South African need a whitewash in New Zealand to go top of the rankings.
And that would set up a winter tour to England between the world's top two. And conceivably, AB could be in charge of all three formats by then.

1 England 118
2 South Africa 117
3. India 111
4 Australia 111
5 Pakistan 108
6 Sri Lanka 98
7 West Indies 88
8 New Zealand 83
9 Bangladesh 8
A SHORTER version of this story appeared in Scoop! South Africa's new tabloid Sunday newspaper last weekend. Available at all good street corners and supermarkets etc in Gauteng and KZN every Sunday until Wednesday. You might still get one. It's only R6.95. See www.scoopnews.co.za or follow us on twitter at www.twitter.com/scoopza.

1 comment:

  1. Nice article Neal! AB is a true leader. He has an amazing attitude that shows both on and off the field! He is a likable guy in all situations social and sport. Together with the best coach in the world, and a world class side in support, AB's dreams WILL be realsied! Go boys GO!
    Les Faber