AB: We want Elgar around

Category : News

Seasoned Proteas Test favourite AB de Villiers says there is widespread belief in the camp that rookie batsman Dean Elgar will soon prosper for the country in the five-day arena.

The left-handed, Welkom-born Elgar, 25, is expected to retain his place – albeit still not ideally stationed in the middle-order – for the first Test against New Zealand starting at Newlands here on Wednesday.

In his lone appearance thus far, he recorded an unfortunate “pair” (the 38th batsman in history to register that indignity on debut) against Australia in Perth, where he was given a fiery baptism by Mitchell Johnson in particular; the left-arm speedster snared him both times.

But the Proteas, as with many other Test teams, are disinclined to write people off after a maiden cap – such reasonably modern figures as Graham Gooch, Marvan Atapattu, Ken Rutherford and Saeed Anwar have experienced double ducks on debut and lived to fight many notably more distinguished days.

At a media briefing following training at a sultry Newlands on Sunday, wicketkeeper/batsman De Villiers was quick to stress to Sport24 that Elgar enjoyed the confidence of the squad.

“No doubt about it. I don’t have to look at it too deeply … every single guy in the team knows he’s a fighter and he’s proved it often over the last few years.

“It shows in his personality and that’s the kind of guy you want in your team whether he’s performing well early in his (Test) career or not. It’s not a problem; we know he’ll come through.

“He’s the kind of guy who will stand up in the big moments and we want him around – that’s what we believe in.”

De Villiers, fresh from facing in the nets both Proteas seamers who are in recovery mode from injures, Jacques Kallis and Vernon Philander, strongly hinted that the former would be able to bowl in the Test – he will play as a key batsman anyway – whilst the latter still faced more of a race against time to make the cut.

“Both look strong. Vernie I’m not 100 percent sure about; he’s got an injury he picked up not very long ago (whereas) Jakes has had a good amount of time to rest. He looked really good in the nets and he’ll be running in again.

“I believe both look really solid and hope both can play, but Vernon I’m not sure about. I’ve haven’t heard the injury report yet. He’s bowled quite a few balls in the middle and the nets today, so signs are that (things are coming together).”

Cobras colleague Rory Kleinveldt is on high alert to replace Philander should he lose his personal battle to be suitably fit.

De Villiers said he felt rejuvenated after his decision to opt out of the three-match Twenty20 series against the Black Caps a few days back, when the Proteas won 2-1 with a greatly re-arranged side.

“Absolutely … it’s all about managing your energy levels and injuries and niggles, and ultimately keeping the passion and hunger for the game to really succeed and do well for your team.

“We play a lot of cricket throughout a year and we’re in a situation where we have to manage it really well. Most of our guys in the Test team are getting a bit older, especially a guy like Jakes and a few others who must really be looked after if we are to protect that No 1 ranking.

“All formats are important to us, so we must just manage it carefully between CSA and the players as well. But I feel very energised and more hungry than ever, and hopefully the results will show.”

The popular stroke-player said he felt he was in a “nice rhythm” at present in terms of his Test glove-work, considering that until relatively recently he had more or less abandoned ‘keeping for several years.

“It did take some time (to readjust). It was tough at first, the preparation. It happened suddenly, in England, and I was thrown into doing it … though I always wanted to follow Bouchie up with the gloves anyway.

“I feel I understand really well what my role is now. I make the right time for both ‘keeping and batting. It is possible (to do both well) … I don’t feel tired after a day’s play, or a Test match. It’s more mental than anything else. I run less, and the ‘fatigue factor’ is nonsense.

“It’s just concentration and a mental thing, which I believe I am good at.”

If De Villiers is to be believed, the Proteas will have taken the necessary steps to guard against complacency when they tackle the underdog New Zealanders in the two-Test series.

“We had a really good meeting with Gary (Kirsten) before this Newlands Test … we sat down at the hotel and examined everything that’s happened over the past year, and what’s coming up.

“The last time we had No 1 we rather threw it away as if it didn’t really matter to us. There’s a real sense of care in the team and spirit in this side; I’m really looking forward to 2013.

“If we can come through the next (year) well I believe we have a really good chance of dominating for four or five years around the world.”

Asked about the pitch, De Villiers said: “It looks like a typical Cape Town wicket. A bit of movement in the first two days, nice and flat day three, and then four and five hopefully a bit of turn for Robbie P (Robin Peterson) and some of our spinners.

“I’m not seeing anything weird or different about it … the seamers may enjoy a bit of grass on days one and two.

“The New Year Test here is as special as they come. We didn’t have a Boxing Day Test this year so we’ll enjoy this one even more.

“I’ve missed the game so it’s nice to be back for this particular occasion, hopefully with a big crowd in … you can’t ask for anything better.

“There’s a good sense of confidence whenever we play at Newlands.”

Source: Sport 24 – December 30, 2012

AB de Villiers pulls out of New Zealand T20s

Category : News

AB de Villiers has pulled out of South Africa’s Twenty20 internationals at home against New Zealand in December, citing the need for extra rest before the Tests in January. Justin Ontong, the Cape Cobras captain, has been called into the squad.

“It’s been an exhausting few months and I feel that I need some extra rest before the Test series,” De Villiers said. “It’s for this reason that I have put in the request and I’m grateful to the team management for supporting this decision.”

When the squad was announced on December 13, South Africa’s selectors had named Faf du Plessis as captain in order to reduce the workload on de Villiers, who was included as a player. Quinton de Kock, who was part of South Africa’s Under-19 squad for the 2012 World Cup, had been designated as wicketkeeper for the T20s, and ESPNCricinfo understands he will also keep in the one-dayers after the Tests, although the ODI squad has not been named yet.

De Villiers has a history of back problems that have worsened because of wicketkeeping, and this request for a break will fuel speculation that he is in trouble again. After the World Twenty20 in September, de Villiers needed three weeks of rehabilitation for his back, and South Africa’s management denied the injury has recurred again.

“There is nothing imminently wrong with his back, it is just about managing workload,” Mohammed Moosajee said, the team manager, told ESPNcricinfo. “The plan is to rotate players like Morne Morkel, Dale Steyn, Jacques Kallis and Hashim Amla because of the schedule. Morne and Dale will probably only play one or two matches each. With AB, it’s about getting his mindset right and getting him energised. It’s physical and mental.”

De Villiers had complained of stiffness and fatigue after playing in the domestic one-day cup playoff match on December 9. Moosajee said that could be a result of jetlag, as the team had only arrived from Australia four days before. De Villiers’ role in the game could also have contributed to the fatigue. He scored a century and fielded for the entire duration of Cobras’ innings because Heino Kuhn kept wicket.

Three days after that match, De Villiers said the game was “hard on my body,” and that he was glad he was a wicketkeeper for South Africa “because the time in the field was tiring.”

However, ESPNcricinfo understands wicketkeeping is partly responsible for de Villiers’ back injuries. He became the permanent Test wicketkeeper after Mark Boucher retired and wants to continue in the role. A source close to Cricket South Africa said de Villiers had been initially reluctant to take on the job but had “changed his mind” since. With Tests the focus for de Villiers, despite his role as limited-overs captain, he will be rested when the schedule allows, although he will play the IPL.

De Villiers’ replacement Ontong captained Cobras to the final of the domestic one-day cup. He scored 268 runs in 12 matches at an average of 44.66. He was part of South Africa’s squad at the World T20, although he did not play, and will lead the A side in a practice match against New Zealand this afternoon.

“Justin has been in our limited-overs plans for some time now and he has underlined his worth during the recent one-day cup, when he excelled as a finisher,” Andrew Hudson, the convenor of selectors, said. “As we all know he is also an outstanding fielder with his direct hits and a more than useful spin bowler. We are fortunate to have a player of his calibre to replace AB and the loss of one is certainly an opportunity for the other.”

Source: ESPN CricInfo – December 18, 2012 / FIRDOSE MOONDAH

Hundreds from Hashim Amla, A.B. de Villiers help Proteas set record run chase for Australia at WACA

Category : News

Superb displays from Hashim Amla and AB de Villiers have virtually extinguished Australia’s hopes of stealing the Proteas’ No.1 Test ranking and clinching the series in Perth.

Openers Ed Cowan (9) and David Warner (29) survived a nervous final hour before stumps on day three, but at 0-40 Australia still require another 592 runs to win.

The Proteas were finally bowled out for 569 in their second innings as they set Australia a world record chase of 632.

Relentless from the start, South Africa went more than 200 runs past the biggest mark ever for a successful fourth innings chase – 418 by the West Indies against Australia in 2003.

Australian coach Mickey Arthur was in charge of South Africa when they chased 414 to win in Perth back in 2008-09.

Arthur said the Ponting factor had not drained the team, and Australia had to believe a win was possible.

“No, Ricky will get 250 not out in the second innings and it’ll be fantastic,” Arthur said.

“Obviously (retirement announcement) was very emotional … but if anything it spurred the team on to send Ricky out in a really good way.

“We bat for two days, we win. We’ve got to believe we can do it.

“If we don’t, there’s no point turning up tomorrow.

“If we get through the new ball we can just bat. A couple of big partnerships and you never know what might happen.”

Ponting will get a final innings to farewell Test cricket, and with two days left to bat, he’ll certainly have plenty of time to set about building a big score.

But with the odds stacked against him and the team, Ponting is relying on a fairytale to end all fairytales if he’s to go out on a high.
Relive all the day three action with our INTERACTIVE blog here.

South Africa completely demoralised Australia for a second straight day on Sunday, with Amla (196) and de Villiers (169) the chief destroyers.

De Villiers said the Proteas needed to make sure they finished the job in raining on Ponting’s parade.

“He’s still got to come out and bat,” de Villiers said.

“We’ve got a lot of hard work ahead of us tomorrow and day five if it goes that far … but I believe we have the skill to get those 10 wickets.

“We haven’t ruined his last Test match yet but hopefully we do.”

The 569 was the biggest humiliation Australia’s attack had suffered since the emphatic Ashes defeats of two summers ago and one of the biggest run chases they’ve ever been set.

The sheer dominance of Amla – who stroked 21 boundaries – pushed Australia to the brink.

De Villiers followed on from where he left off, smashing 21 boundaries, including three in a row from reverse sweeps to bring up 100, and three sixes in an emphatic return to form.

Mitchell Starc took a career-high 6-154 and Mitchell Johnson (4-110) claimed the other four wickets, but it was too little too late for Australia.

Australia feel nothing is completely out of the question, while ever game-changers Warner, Michael Clarke and Mike Hussey are on deck.

Arthur thought his bowlers fought back well on day three and blamed the paltry 163 in the first innings as the reason for the deep hole Australia now finds themselves in.

“We paid the price for a very poor day two of the Test match,” Arthur said.

“It’s always the bowlers that end up getting caned but if we had got ourselves a 70-80 run lead like we had planned, the bowlers would have bowled with a different pressure.”

Source: News.com.au – December 2, 2012 / BEN HORNE