Career-best ranking for de Villiers

Category : News

South Africa batsman AB de Villiers has achieved his highest-ever career ranking after gaining five places to 11th in the ICC Test rankings.

De Villiers topped the series averages as the Proteas beat West Indies 2-0, with the middle-order batsman scoring 330 runs at 165 in the three Tests. As a result he moved above such luminaries as Ricky Ponting and VVS Laxman.

He also overtook his countryman Hashim Amla, whose superb run of form came to an end as he managed just 122 runs for the series. Amla slipped five places to share 15th position with Ponting after managing just 30 runs across two innings in Barbados.

Meanwhile man of the series Dale Steyn increased his lead in the bowling rankings with six wickets in the final Test, giving him a massive lead of 97 points over second-placed Mitchell Johnson.

Despite the series result South Africa remain in second place, having gained less than a point due to West Indies’ low ranking. The islanders remain in eighth position, three points behind New Zealand and Pakistan but still 68 points ahead of Bangladesh.

The good news for the West Indies was a rankings rise for Shivnarine Chanderpaul, whose unbeaten 71 in the third Test in Barbados took him up three places to sixth.

Left-arm spinner Sulieman Benn, who took 6 for 81 in the first innings, rose three places to 31st, while Kemar Roach gained nine places to 38th thanks to his five-wicket match haul.

Source: Cricket365 – June 30, 2010

All still to play for in third test: de Villiers

Category : News

A.B. de Villiers and Sulieman Benn, two key performers so far, believe the third and final Test between West Indies and South Africa is far from over.

De Villiers hit 73 and shared in a record sixth-wicket stand with Ashwell Prince as South Africa, replying to West Indies’ first innings total of 231, reached 285 for six when stumps were drawn on Sunday’s second day at Kensington Oval.

“West Indies are putting up a challenge,” said de Villiers. “They are playing some very good cricket, especially their bowling in this match.

“They came out, and fought really hard right up until the close of play. Benn bowled unbelievably well, and had us in trouble for most of the day.

“But we are a fairy well-balanced Test side, and we recovered well. It’s going to be a tough Test match over the next few days, and it is fairly evenly-balanced at the moment. We will have to come out and fight really hard for a win.”

Benn has been the most successful West Indies bowler with four wickets for 59 runs from 31 overs, and is confident that West Indies could still make a claim for victory, though the decks are heavily stacked against them.

“You always have to think that way,” he said. “One down in a series, you have to think that you could get a result out of it in your favour. You can’t just say die and go with your tail between your legs. We have to try hard.

“We have to be positive in what we are doing. Our second innings is crucial to our game plan, and we have to bat properly.”

De Villiers spent just over four hours at the crease, and struck just a half-dozen boundaries from 189 balls, which he indicated was testimony that batting on a slowish pitch was challenging.

“It was really tough stuff working out there (on Sunday),” he said. “I think Ashwell [Prince], and I played really well to give us a lead of 50-odd.

“It’s a shame I lost my wicket towards the end of the day. I would have loved to be there to bat when we resume (on Monday).

“That’s Test cricket for you. You’ve got to toil, and work hard for your runs.”

“I love working hard for my runs. I love playing Test cricket. You don’t want to get it any other way.

“I think I faced 180-odd balls for my 70, and that’s just proper Test cricket, and I really enjoyed every second of it. It’s just a pity I could not go on to reach a hundred.”

Benn acknowledged West Indies had allowed South Africa to wriggle free, after the visitors had slipped to 145 for five.

“De Villiers and Prince put on a 100-run partnership, when five wickets were down, but the pitch kind of got better for batting as the innings progressed,” he said. “We tried our best, but it just didn’t happen at that time.”

De Villiers twice benefitted from West Indies captain Chris Gayle’s decision not to challenge umpiring decisions, but both he and Benn were philosophical about it.

Benn summed it up in this way: “It’s a touch and go situation. Either it would go in your favour, or it won’t. That is just something that happens. We still have to get on with the job.”

Source: AFP – June 28, 2010 / PAUL MITCHELL

AB advances in style

Category : News, Photo

AB hits a six vs West Indies.AB de Villiers and Shahid Afridi are the biggest movers in the Sky Sports International Sixes League this week.

Taking advantage of the small ground at Basseterre, St Kitts, de Villiers cleared the boundary six times in his unbeaten century in the second Test against the West Indies.

Meanwhile, in the Asia Cup at Dambulla, Afridi took a great liking to the Bangladesh bowlers, smashing four sixes in his innings of 124 which came from just 60 deliveries.

Australians Shane Watson and Cameron White failed to add to their tally in the opening NatWest Series encounter at the Rose Bowl on Tuesday – the only sixes in the game coming from the bats of England’s Craig Kieswetter and Luke Wright, who struck one a piece.

The series continues on Thursday when the teams go head-to-head again in another day-night contest, this time in Cardiff.

Source: SkySports – June 23, 2010

Tons for AB and Kallis

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AB celebrates his 10th Test hundred in St Kitts v West IndiesThe South Africans continued to cruise along a Country Road of a pitch at Warner Park for the second day in a row, increasing their century count to three before eventually declaring at a seemingly unassailable 543. Jacques Kallis and AB de Villiers made contrasting centuries against a listless bowling attack, and though West Indies weren’t guilty of any glaring errors unlike the opening day, their body language suggested they were waiting for the inevitable declaration.

After spending the better part of two days on the field, West Indies made a decent start with the bat after losing Travis Dowlin early. Chris Gayle and Narsingh Deonarine blunted the new-ball pair of Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel and proceeded to 86 for 1 before bad light intervened.

South Africa were well on course to a massive score after setting a solid platform on the opening day. They approached the second with a plan. Preservation of wickets, without too many risks, was the theme of the opening session but after lunch, the aim was acceleration. de Villiers, who has the ability to shift gears according to the situation, stepped on the gas as South Africa eyed a declaration.

He started off the day watchfully, but found his groove against the easy offerings from Ravi Rampaul. A short delivery was crunched past midwicket and a fuller one was crashed past cover. When spin was introduced, de Villiers sashayed down the track to pull out some exquisite lofts.

de Villiers began the afternoon session with a cut off Sulieman Benn to bring up his fifty, followed by a bludgeoning pull off the same bowler to clear deep square leg. The timing of his shots was exemplified by two gorgeous drives off the front foot off Kemar Roach, one past cover and the other wide of mid-on. Placement was not an issue for de Villiers as he used his feet to the spinners and bisected gaps perfectly towards the on-side boundary. He brought out the chipped shots, firm sweeps and front foot pulls with crisp timing. His first fifty came off 84 balls while his second came off just 46. Unlike Kallis, who plodded around for 15 balls on 99, de Villiers searched for the quickest route to the top. He went from 95 to 101 by chipping down the track to Benn and launching him over long-on.

He celebrating his tenth Test ton by popping a pill and dashing to the loo for an unusually long break, much to amusement to his team-mates and the spectators. A declaration was around the corner as the tea break neared and de Villiers predictably maintained the pace. On either side of the tea break, he gave Shane Shillingford a hard time by dancing down the track to fetch massive sixes.

Kallis’ knock wasn’t as exhilarating, but he ensured South Africa didn’t lose any wickets in the morning. He approached his fifty with a neat reverse-sweep for four and then brought up his milestone with a conventional one down to fine leg. He was tested against the new ball by Roach who kept banging it short, including one that smacked him on the helmet. But Roach got monotonous with his length and Kallis started pulling him regularly pulled past square leg.

Kallis flicked Bravo stylishly past midwicket to become the sixth batsman to pass 11000 Test runs. Post lunch, after a long wait in the nineties, he reached his century with a cut past backward point. A top edged sweep to Rampaul at long leg – a fine catch falling backwards – ended his knock, but his 138-run association set up the declaration.

There was no pitch deterioration or variable bounce when West Indies came out to bat. Dowlin, who did well in Australia in his new role as opener to see off the new ball, failed to replicate that here. He reached forward and poked at a Morkel delivery shaping away from him and the resultant outside edge was taken by an agile de Villiers at third slip.

West Indies ensured they didn’t repeat the mistake of sending Brendan Nash at No.3 and instead sent in Deonarine, who’s more accustomed to the position. Morkel peppered him with short balls from over the wicket, with one pounding his elbow. Gayle was watchful against the seamers early on, preparing to leave deliveries shaping away from him.

However, he was classy against the fuller deliveries coming in to him. After stabbing at one from Lonwabo Tsotsobe, which scorched down the ground, he cracked two delightful boundaries past mid-off off Morkel. Deonarine too capitalised on the pitched-up deliveries and when Paul Harris was introduced, he welcomed him with a huge six over long-on. The pair also did well to fend off the short deliveries in fading light. With the pitch still loaded with runs, the outcome of the game will depend on how long West Indies bat.

Source: CricInfo – June 19, 2010 / KANISHKAA BALACHANDRAN

Half centuries from De Villiers, Prince and Boucher lift South Africa against West Indies

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South Africa was grateful for half centuries from Mark Boucher, AB de Villiers and Ashwell Prince on Friday as they recorded 352 all out at the close of the second day of the opening test at the Queen’s Park Oval.

The tourists, 70-3 overnight, slipped to 107-5 within the first hour before the middle-order trio resuscitated the innings.

De Villiers, who hit 68, shared a sixth-wicket stand of 122 with left-hander Prince, who compiled 57.

Wicket-keeper Boucher then top-scored with 69 and received able lower-order support from Dale Steyn, who struck an enterprising 39.

Left-arm spinner Sulieman Benn snared career-best figures of 5-120 while off-spinner Shane Shillingford claimed 3-96 on debut.

After enjoying the better of a rain-hit opening day, the hosts again began brightly under sunny skies as Benn and Shillingford each claimed early wickets.

Nightwatchman Paul Harris swatted a six off Shillingford but fell shortly afterward to Benn when he miscued to extra cover.

The 27-year-old Shillingford then claimed the prize wicket of Jacques Kallis for 28.

Kallis stepped too far across his stumps and was plumb leg before as he missed a big off-break.

De Villiers and Prince confidently rebuilt the innings, recording a half-century stand to reach lunch at 190-5. Prince survived a confident caught behind appeal off Pascal when on 35 but there were few other alarms.

Their stand blossomed after the break as both players notched fifties. De Villiers arrived at his landmark first, off 106 balls, while Prince soon followed, after facing 98 deliveries.

West Indies captain Chris Gayle finally made the breakthrough with his first delivery of the match. Prince, after striking two fours and a six off 119 balls, tickled a catch to backward short leg to leave South Africa on 229-6.

Gayle brought back Benn immediately and the lanky 28-year-old soon claimed the wicket of De Villiers, edging a drive through to wicket-keeper Denesh Ramdin. De Villiers scored five boundaries in an innings spanning 145 deliveries.

West Indies sensed a swift end at 238-7 but Boucher and Steyn provided more steely resistance in an eighth-wicket partnership worth 86.

Their stand was closing in on three figures when Benn beat an advancing Steyn in the flight and had him stumped. The fast bowler struck four fours and two sixes off 73 balls.

Benn, in his 13th test, celebrated his second five-wicket haul a few overs later when Morne Morkel missed a sweep to be bowled with the score on 330.

Boucher and last man Lonwabo Tsotsobe contributed another 22 runs for the last wicket before Bravo ended the innings and the day.

Boucher, who cracked four fours and a six off 146 balls, fell trying for another maximum as Nelon Pascal took a fine catch on the long-off boundary.

Source: The Associated Press (CP) – June 12, 2010