AB still an injury concern for first Test

Category : News

AB de Villiers has admitted that it is still touch and go as to whether or not he will be fit for the first Test against Australia in Cape Town.

De Villiers, South Africa’s limited-overs captain, was forced to miss the two Twenty20s and three ODIs against the touring Australians recently after fracturing a finger during the Champions League T20 in India.

The Proteas were hopeful that he would be fit for the opening Test at Newlands, starting on November 9, but de Villiers said that the second game in Durban a week later is probably a better bet at this stage.

“The finger is healing well and the specialist is happy with my progress, but I will probably have to wait for another week or two,” he told Rapport.

“It’s still not certain if I will recover in time for the first Test.

“I really hope so, but a safer target is probably the second one.”

Proteas team manager and doctor Mohammed Moosajee said they will know later this week if the 27-year-old will be fit as he is due to see a specialist in Johannesburg on Thursday.

“There will be more X-rays done on the finger, after which we will have a better idea on his availability,” said Moosajee.

Meanwhile, South Africa coach Gary Kirsten is more optimistic about de Villiers’ fitness ahead of the Cape Town game, but said they will only select him after he has spent some time in the middle.

“We are hopeful that AB will be ready, but he still needs match practice,” he added.

“He’s going to try and play first-class cricket before the Test series (for the Titans in the SuperSport Series).

“He’s looking good, but a final decision can only be taken after he has had some match play.”

Source: Cricket365 – October 31, 2011

Proteas’ de Villiers on track for Test

Category : News

South African star AB de Villiers is on track to recover from a hand injury and play in the first Test against Australia.

The world-class batsman was in significant doubt for the opening of the two-match series starting in Cape Town on November 9, but coach Gary Kirsten says the Proteas are “hopeful.”

South Africa’s limited overs captain was ruled out of the tour’s Twenty20 and ODI fixtures after injuring himself in the Champions League.

The 27-year-old will reportedly see another specialist early this week to determine if he’s fine to make a return for provincial side Eastern Titans in the first match of the one-day cup against the Highveld Lions in Centurion on Wednesday.

He’s believed to be a strong chance to receive the green light, and Kirsten says he’s keen to see de Villiers prove he can get through some franchise cricket before the Tests.

“We’re hopeful, he needs some game time so he’s going to try and play some franchise cricket coming up before the Test series starts,” Kirsten said.

“He’s looking good at the moment but a final decision can only be made once he’s played really.”

South Africa showed some encouraging signs through the ODI series, which Australia clinched 2-1 with a three-wicket win in Durban on Friday, but overall they struggled for consistency.

Jacques Kallis is in typically fine touch with the bat, and Morne Morkel has looked dangerous with the ball – but the team’s other stars like Graeme Smith, Hashim Amla and Dale Steyn have been more hit and miss.

However, Kirsten said he had a good feeling about the Tests.

“What’s been important in this one-day series is that some guys have got themselves into form and I think importantly some guys are game ready, they’ve had a bit of heavy competition now,” he said.

“Obviously we would have liked to close the series up, but we didn’t because I don’t think we played well enough. They played better than us.

“I’m feeling confident the guys are getting into some good form.”

Source: NineMSN – October 30, 2011 / BEN HORNE

Fit AB will remedy SA’s woes

Category : News

South Africa have disappointingly started their summer on the back foot, surrendering the short one-day international series 2-1 to touring arch-rivals Australia in the tense decider at Kingsmead on Friday.

The outcome will have further irked the many who follow the fortunes of our country’s various major sports teams, given that nation’s current mini-stranglehold over the Springboks at rugby as well.

It significantly raises the onus now on the Proteas to achieve what was always going to be the main objective of the Aussie challenge anyway: winning the two-Test series which starts at Newlands on November 9.

This is supposed to be a period of transition for the once-untouchable Australians, so South Africa already playing second fiddle against them on home soil from a limited-overs point of view is certainly cause for some concern.

Given Australia’s illustrious heritage, it is unlikely that they will remain in a rebuild mode for too long, and more spiritedly start challenging anew for hilltop real estate on all of the global ranking ladders.

It also brings into sharp focus once more the glaring drawback new coach Gary Kirsten and his fellow-strategists experienced ahead of the Aussie visit, with an infernal, franchise-level Twenty20 circus in India – albeit a lucratively-paid one, which could be said to throw up angry questions of another kind among the game’s purists – playing havoc with any quest to properly “glue” a Proteas squad ahead of the visit by Michael Clarke and company.

Yes, several of the Aussie players were in action at the Champions League too, but they had also not long before that come off a strenuous and successful national tour of Sri Lanka which clearly kept them sharper during the off-season than South Africa’s counterparts, who nevertheless deserved a solid break and are at least showing signs of getting closer to hitting their straps.

Still, even the Test series is already worrying me more than I would like it to from a Proteas perspective: several of our best campaigners will enter it off a complete diet of one-day cricket, as we are frustratingly in the throes of a final weekend of SuperSport Series matches before the first-class competition takes a less-than-helpful break until December 15.

Oh, how beneficial a long-form domestic game, ahead of the Cape Town Test, would have been for someone like Dale Steyn, the premier strike bowler who is slowly getting better as the winter cobwebs fall off but desperately needs a protracted bowl for rhythm purposes.

He showed in Durban on Friday, on a pitch of strangely complex personality, that he is beginning to get his basic disciplines right … but his trademark “zip” remains rather too elusive with the Tests just around the corner.

That sharp observer Kepler Wessels correctly noted in commentary from Kingsmead that while Steyn’s use of a multitude of mix-it-up skills is obviously not to be sniffed at, he is at his vintage best when he is going past the edge consistently at 142-145km/h, not rolling the ball over his wrist or bowling slow bouncers and the like.

The tourists, meanwhile, only get another advantageous chance to sharpen their act further when they play South Africa ‘A’ over four days on the lovely batting surface of Senwes Park in Potchefstroom from Tuesday!

The series-deciding outcome in Durban usefully cements Australia’s position at the top of the ODI rankings, with the Proteas staying in fourth and at least aided by England’s recent 0-5 flop in India which will keep them firmly curtailed to fifth for the moment.

But South Africa are second on the Test charts and under rightful pressure to dispose of the fourth-placed Aussies after failing to win any of their last three major home series – against India last season, England before that and the very same Aussies a season earlier.

The quicker they can get AB de Villiers, a key member of their senior batting firm, back in the mix the better – he is fighting to recover from his finger fracture in time for Newlands although a better bet probably still remains the second Test at the Wanderers from November 17.

He was glaringly missed again in the final ODI, where outside of the top three the Proteas seemed to get more and more bogged down on the tricky surface which meant they totalled an insufficient 222 for six after a promising, rollicking enough start after enjoying the benefit of batting first in a day/nighter again.

I always had a sneaky feeling that with a certain Mike Hussey lurking handily as low as No 6 in the Aussie order, they would be able to get over the line: here is a hugely experienced customer boasting 4 862 runs for his country in 50-overs cricket and one of the best on the planet at adjusting to on-day conditions.

The Proteas, by contrast, fielded Faf du Plessis at No 5 (288 ODI runs) and David Miller at six (267 runs). That is no criticism: it is simply an illustration of their inexperience in relation to someone like the nerveless Hussey.

And although De Villiers has not yet had the opportunity to show his freshly-appointed leadership skills, he will presumably do so in the next ODI series against Sri Lanka during summer-proper, thus allowing Hashim Amla to focus more all-embracingly on his own vital batting again.

The soft-spoken Dolphins man having the reins does not seem ideal, especially given that he sometimes even drops hints that he is lukewarm about the responsibility: can you afford that sort of situation when you go head-to-head with an uncompromising team like Australia, led by someone – Clarke – who clearly thrives on having the extra burden?

The more I think about it, too, the more I suspect the gladiatorial Johan Botha, already a prior series-winner in this capacity Down Under, has been given a raw deal in national limited-overs captaincy terms … giving him back the vice-captaincy, at least, might be a step in a productive direction.

Source: Sport24 – October 29, 2011 / ROB HOUWING

AB’s little brother is a real Wonder

Category : News, Photo

When Wonder Nkosi was appointed a prefect at his school recently, his “elder brother” , Proteas ODI captain AB de Villiers, was among the first to congratulate him.

The South Africa batsman and wicketkeeper has been Wonder’s mentor and friend for almost three years.

Wonder, a grade 11 pupil at Hoërskool Brandwag in Benoni on the East Rand, plays wicketkeeper for his school’s senior cricket team .

De Villiers volunteered to become Wonder’ s mentor after he became involved with the nonprofit educational charity Make a Difference . Founded by rugby legend Francois Pienaar, Make a Difference provides financial assistance and other support to 74 underprivileged pupils .

De Villiers, who matriculated at the Afrikaanse Hoër Seunskool (Affies) in Pretoria in 2002, took Wonder under his wing when he began attending the school in 2008.

“I was told this little boy is going to Affies and I tried to offer him some advice on how to cope there. I came from a country school, Warmbaths Primary, and I was sent to Affies and it was amazingly tough for me,” De Villiers said this week. Make a Difference decided in 2009 to enrol Wonderat Brandwag so he could be closer to home.

“He speaks Afrikaans beautifully, probably better than I do. He has excelled as a person there and is doing amazingly well. He is confident about life and knows where he’s going and that’s really awesome to see,” said De Villiers.

The prolific batsman, who is not participating in the three one-day international matches against Australia because of injury, spent time with Wonder at last Sunday’s T20 match at the Wanderers as well as at Wednesday’s one-day International at SuperSport Park in Centurion.

De Villiers hasn’t offered the 17-year-old many cricketing tips, saying his mentoring was about giving Wonder lessons in life.

“I believe he’s in a really good school and he’s getting proper coaching.

“But when he decides to go into cricket one day, I will definitely be there.”

Wonder said the cricketer had made a “huge” difference in his life : “I am very glad he’s my mentor. He’s someone special and is always there when I need him.”

He added: “I talk to him when I am struggling with cricket or if I am doing badly at school. When I do well, he always calls to congratulate me.”

Wonder said his classmates knew De Villiers was his mentor.

“They think it’s cool but some are quite jealous.”

Joyce Nkosi, a single mother, said her son had really benefited from his relationship with “his elder brother”.

“He’s learnt a lot from him. AB has made him a very proud young man.”

Source: Times Live – October 23, 2011 / PREGA GOVENDER

AB de Villiers recovering well

Category : News

AB de Villiers is recovering well from his hand injury sustained in the Champions League T20.

The newly promoted Proteas skipper will still be out for the next two to three weeks.

De Villiers on Monday said he is confident he will be ready when the Test series against Australia gets underway.

“The operation went well and the specialist was very happy with what went down there. I fractured my finger and it should heal quickly. I’m hoping to make the first Test but if not I’ll definitely make the second one,” he said.

Jacques Kallis will make a welcomed return to action on Wednesday after being rested for the T20 series.

De Villiers believes South Africa is blessed in this department.

“The all-rounder gives you option with the ball and the bat.”

There are often concerns around pitch conditions this early on in the season, although De Villiers believes that the pitches are in excellent condition.

“Both teams are used to bounce and wickets moving around, lovely wickets. Both teams should be used to this kind of conditions. Obviously it’s quite early in the season but the wickets have held out quite nicely and I can’t see it getting worse in the test matches.”

The series opening ODI gets underway on Wednesday at Supersport Park in Centurion.

Source: Eyewitness News – October 17, 2011 . MARC LEWIS