AB out to keep teammates’ respect

Category : News

Taking on the captaincy has put AB de Villiers more firmly in the spotlight than at any other stage of the eight years he has been an international cricketer.

His responsibilities with the media have trebled, his role as wicketkeeper means he’s constantly in the game, but it is as his side’s leader that De Villiers is being most closely scrutinised. And while his image with the public is important, it is the way his teammates view him that is vital to De Villiers in the early stages of the captaincy.

Combine all that with the new strategies and ideas from a coaching staff headed up by Gary Kirsten and it means De Villiers has had a lot on his plate these last few weeks – he deserves the few weeks off he is getting before the Tour to New Zealand.

So starting off his captaincy career with a series win over Sri Lanka eases the stress on his shoulders. That, coupled with the starring role he played with the bat, means when De Villiers assesses the performance of the team he can do so in a relaxed fashion. His own form is excellent – he went passed 50 in three of the five innings’ he played, culminating in a thrilling century in the final match of the series at the Wanderers.

As a result he was able to focus on the other areas in which he contributes to the side. His keeping wasn’t as efficient as he would like it, nor how it should be for an international keeper. You could put that down to the extra concerns he has in the captaincy department.

De Villiers will grow accustomed to that. “I realised the guys feed off my energy, so to be calm and in control is very important, the guys look up to you,” he explained.

“Leading from the front not just with the bat and catching, but the way I present myself out there, it was really tough at times.”

Midway through the series the management also decided to give Dale Steyn and Jacques Kallis a break while vice-captain Hashim Amla returned home after becoming a father for the first time. In the absence of so many senior professionals and match-winners, the burden on De Villiers increased even more.

He also bought into the new strategies Kirsten was keen for the side to adopt, and most crucially there was the mantra of playing the situation. That players were given responsibilities at different times – in East London JP Duminy came in to bat at No4, in Bloemfontein it was Faf du Plessis and at the Wanderers, De Villiers came in at No3. All those moves proved successful with Duminy and Du Plessis making vital half-centuries and De Villiers of course 125 not out.

“It’s quite simple, I just can’t tell you that there is a set plan,” said De Villiers.

“It’s just about which individual suits the situation better and (Sunday) I was the right man for No3, another day I might be five. If we need someone to clear the boundary Albie Morkel might come in at four or five. We just mix it up, right and left-hand combinations, when a spinner is bowling maybe get the right/left combo going to make it difficult for the spinner to settle. There are quite a few factors that play a role, but we decide on the situation and who is the best for the team.”

Kirsten has a role to play there, because decisions about the batting order are made in the dressing-room, when it comes to the bowlers De Villiers takes much more of the responsibility. There’s been no discernable pattern to how De Villiers has used the bowlers.

With the exception of Lonwabo Tsotsobe, who finished as South Africa’s leading wicket-taker in the series – with 11 wickets and always opened the bowling – everyone else had to adapt to the conditions or strategies were in place on a particular day. At the Wanderers, in particular, bowlers were used in very short bursts and in a move you’d definitely not associate with a South African team, the last two overs of the match were bowled by spinners.

De Villiers admitted there was plenty for him and the players to learn, and going to New Zealand will definitely help that process.

They won’t have the distraction of family and friends over there and there’ll be greater focus on playing and adopting the new strategies. After that tour we’ll know what kind of a captain De Villiers is.

Source: The Star – January 24, 2012 / STUART HESS

It will get tougher: AB

Category : News

While enjoying his early success at the helm of the national limited overs team, Proteas limited overs captain AB de Villiers says he is aware that it will not always be plain sailing.

De Villiers guided South Africa to a 3-2 victory over Sri Lanka in his maiden one-day international (ODI) series as captain and was named Man of the Series as the top runs scorer from either side.

The wicketkeeper-batsman made 329 runs in the five matches at an average of 109.66, including an unbeaten 125 and 96.

“Captaincy is hard work but I’m enjoying it and it’s great that I’m leading by example at the moment,” De Villiers said after Sri Lanka secured a consolation two-wicket victory at the Wanderers at the weekend.

“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 said he had become more aware, after his first tour as skipper, that the examples he set both on and off the field had a significant impact on the team.

“I realised that the guys feed off my energy and it’s very important for me to be calm and in control the whole time,” he said.

“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.

“It was really tough at times but I think it’s one of the most important things that I learned.”

Hoping for a series whitewash, or at least a 4-1 win, the Proteas were outplayed in the last match at the Wanderers.

De Villiers, however, was full of admiration for former captain Graeme Smith, who made 125 runs at the top of the order after being severely criticised by the media and the public for his recent batting displays.

It was Smith’s first century in 36 ODI innings.

“I thought our boys batted really well as it was tough in the beginning, especially in the first 10 overs,” he said.

“Then it flattened out nicely and I’m really proud of the way Graeme batted through.

“We all are — we’re really proud of the man — that’s the least he deserved and going forward he’ll take a lot of confidence and momentum with him to New Zealand.”

In an unusual strategy, the Proteas rotated their middle-order batsmen depending on match situations.

“There is no set plan, and we will play it by ear on the day,” said the skipper.

“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 left-hand combinations are also important when a spinner is bowling well, and it makes it a bit tougher for the spinner to settle.”

De Villiers said their philosophy to take things one step at a time would continue as the team prepared to embark on their tour of New Zealand in February.

“Our goal was to win both the Tests and the ODIs against Sri Lanka and we did that,” he said.

“We could have won the ODIs a bit more convincingly but it didn’t happen that way.

“We’ll go to New Zealand and that’s a new challenge and our next goal.

“Obviously our long term goals are being number one 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.”

Source: Sport24 – January 23, 2012

Smith form a relief for AB

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AB de Villiers may have been named man-of-the-series after South Africa concluded their battle against Sri Lanka on Sunday, but the Proteas captain was a happy man for another reason.

His predecessor and close friend Graeme Smith had returned to form and showed his hand with a fine 125 off 143 balls.

It was not enough to win the fifth Sunfoil one-day international as they went down by two wickets at the Bidvest Wanderers Stadium in Johannesburg, but De Villiers was just thrilled with himself for having never lost belief in Smith.

“I told the press that he was going to come through, and I’m very happy for my man,” the skipper said afterward. “Biff did extremely well.

“His feet are still on the ground but deep inside I can see that he is very proud and we are all very proud of him. That’s the least he deserved today.”

Smith’s century was the first in over two years, with his last one coming against England during the 2009 Champions Trophy.

It also came on the back of his highest score in 18 innings in the previous game at Kimberley on Friday night.

Smith made a determined 68 in that game and it was the first step towards silencing his critics, with his knock in Johannesburg then showing he is still one of the most dangerous openers around.

For his part, De Villiers struck a flamboyant 125 off 98 balls as South Africa racked up an imposing 312 for four.

But the Proteas’ weakened attack, minus the rested Dale Steyn and Jacques Kallis, found Sri Lanka in a daunting mood as they chased down the total with a ball to spare, thanks to Kumar Sangakkara (102) and Lahiru Thirimanne (69).

De Villiers, whose side won the series 3-2, added: “Things have been going my way and I’m delighted with my form at the moment.

“We have a lot to work on before touring New Zealand next month, but I am very happy with the way the team fought to the end.”

Sri Lanka captain Tillakaratne Dilshan was pleased with the way his side had come back in the last two games, especially after their mauling at Paarl to start the series.

“We came back strongly at the end of our tour and needed to prove a point after being bowled out for 43 in the first ODI,” he said.

“Chasing 313 runs for victory meant it was always going to be tight and I am so proud of my team.

“We had a fantastic time in South Africa and it was just a pity that we lost the test and one-day series narrowly.”

Despite their defeats in both legs of the tour, the Sri Lankans can take a lot of heart as they also became the first team from their land to win a test match in South Africa after they thrashed the hosts in Durban to draw level at 1-1.

Dilshan, who possibly captained the team for the last time after an overhaul of cricket administration in that country over the past week, added: “Before we came here everyone thought we were the underdog but we proved we are one of the best sides in the world, especially in one-dayers.

“Hopefully, we can carry this performance into the next few tours.”

Source: SuperSport – January 23, 2012 / THAHIR ASMAL

AB happy with fighting spirit

Category : News

Sachithra Senanayake struck a six off the penultimate ball to give Sri Lanka a two-wicket triumph over South Africa on Sunday in the final match of a five one-day international series won 3-2 by the hosts.

Captain AB de Villiers and predecessor Graeme Smith (125 each) hit tons as South Africa made 312-4, but a century from Kumar Sangakkara (102) led the tourists to 314-8 at the Wanderers and a second success within three days.

Sri Lanka appeared to be cruising until Sangakkara became the fourth wicket to fall with 275 runs on the board and 44.2 overs into the match and a late South Africa rally brought two wickets within three balls during the final over.

It left the tourists needing five runs from two balls for victory and tailender Senanayake hit Robin Peterson for a six to snatch success in a thrilling climax to a two-month tour.

“We came back strongly at the end of our tour and needed to prove a point after being bowled out for 43 in the first ODI,” said Sri Lanka skipper Tillakaratne Dilshan.

“Chasing 313 runs for victory meant it was always going to be tight and I am so proud of my team. We had a fantastic time in South Africa and it was just a pity that we lost the Test and one-day series narrowly.”

Man-of-the-series De Villiers said: “We have a lot to work on before touring New Zealand next month, but I am very happy with the way the team fought to the end.”

Sangakkara struck 10 fours in a maiden ODI ton against South Africa and there were also valuable contributions from Lahiru Thirimanne (69), Upul Tharanga (46) and Dilshan (41).

De Villiers and Smith excelled as South Africa recovered from a sluggish early run rate having being sent in to bat in a match delayed for one hour by a mid-afternoon thunderstorm.

De Villiers finished unbeaten after facing 98 deliveries while Smith received a standing ovation from the sell-out 30 000 crowd after being caught by Dinesh Chandimal at mid-wicket off the bowling of Lasith Malinga.

While the Proteas skipper confirmed his position as one of the best stroke players in the world today with 10 fours and four sixes, Smith could not contain his joy as he walked off after a timely first ODI ton in three years.

There was a media and public outcry against him just a week ago after innings of six, 28 and two in the first three matches of the series before he stopped the rot with a brisk 68 in Kimberley two days ago.

Test skipper Smith embroidered his innings with nine fours and four sixes off 143 balls during a 203-minute stand and the crowd revelled in his change of fortune.

South Africa lost opener Alviro Petersen (6) with only 10 runs on the board and were 70-2 when Faf du Plessis (24) departed before De Villiers and Smith took charge.

Source: Sport24 – January 23, 2012

The AB scoop

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Unlike the Sri Lankan captain, AB de Villiers does not have a shot named after him, yet. After this innings he should. With a view to accelerating South Africa’s score when Albie Morkel was dismissed, de Villiers tested one of his more audacious strokes in the penultimate over. Thisara Perera tried to bowl full outside off but de Villiers had walked so far away from his stumps, he was almost on the grass. He swivelled, angled his bat and scooped the ball over fine leg for six. The next ball, just for good measure, he did it again. The AB scoop had arrived.

Source: CricInfo – January 23, 2012 / FIRDOSE MOONDAH