AB to focus on captaincy

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South Africa’s ODI captain AB de Villiers is relishing his first opportunity to lead his team without keeping wicket.

“I have always felt a bit rushed trying to captain the side and keep wicket,” De Villiers said on Friday in Cape Town.

“I will probably stand at mid-off and be able to communicate with my bowlers a lot better as well as get a better perspective of the game.”

De Villiers had been in charge of the one-day team since 2011 and had conducted affairs in all 13 of those matches from behind the wicket.

Quinton de Kock, the 20-year-old Highveld Lion, would now take over the gloves in the first of three ODIs against New Zealand, starting on Saturday at Paarl.

De Villiers acknowledged the ODI team had not been consistent, winning nine of the 13 matches under his watch.

Having climbed to the top of the ODI rankings, just one point ahead of England, South Africa needed to win the series 3-0 to maintain their position.

“We will just take one game at a time, and not worry about rankings,” De Villiers said.

“We need to build a team for the next World Cup, and we need to produce consistent results. We have to Champions Trophy coming up in June which is a massive tournament for us on the way to the 2015 World Cup.”

The team were still trying to establish a solid batting line-up, but would persist with the policy of a floating line-up, sending players in as the circumstances demanded, rather than sticking to a rigid batting order.

South Africa had not played a 50-overs match since winning the fifth and final ODI in England in September, which enabled them to draw the series 2-2.

New Zealand had a mountain to climb if anything was to be salvaged from their South African tour.

Beaten 2-1 in the T20 series and comprehensively outplayed in the two-Test series, they were determined to go out fighting.

Captain Brendon McCullum believed the addition of specialised one-day player Kyle Mills would add strength to a team which, he said, were “incredibly focused and determined to put up the best fight they can”.

“Kyle is very experienced with a good record and he will provide some leadership – we have been a bit short of leadership,” said McCullum.

“We know we can perform with the white ball and the spirit in the change room is good.”

As in the Test series, the New Zealand line-up was not at full strength. Johannesburg-born Grant Elliott was brought in for the injured Corey Anderson and Neil Wagner, who spent his early years in Pretoria, was added when Adam Milne aggravated a leg injury.

A victory over South Africa would end a dismal run for the Black Caps, who had not won a series for over a year. Their last win was against Zimbabwe – languishing in 10th place the world rankings – and then the Kiwis were beaten 3-0 by South Africa at home immediately afterwards.

The second ODI will be played at Kimberley on Tuesday and the third at Potchefstroom on Friday.

Source: IOL Sport – January 18, 2013

Overburdened de Villiers abandons gloves

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AB de Villiers has, for the first time, admitted being overburdened by his roles as a batsman, wicket-keeper and part of South Africa’s leadership core. His acknowledgment comes after a policy change to the limited-overs squads which has seen the gloves taken away from de Villiers to allow him to focus on captaincy.

“I have always felt a bit rushed trying to captain the side and keep wicket,” de Villiers said ahead of the first ODI against New Zealand in Paarl. “I will probably stand at mid-off and be able to communicate with my bowlers a lot better as well as get a better perspective of the game.”

De Villiers latest statement contrasts with his assessment of his own handling of the triple task the last time South Africa played limited-overs cricket, at the World Twenty20 in September. De Villiers required three weeks rest after the tournament after he aggravated his chronic back condition during the tour of England and the ICC event.

Despite the recurrence of the injury, de Villiers insisted he was not paying the price for taking on too much. “I don’t believe there is too much on my plate; I really enjoy the captaincy and batting and keeping. It’s what I am going to do,” he said, while even going as far as to say he would continue in all three roles irrespective of the effect it had. “If I miss out on a year of my career, so be it.”

Since that tournament, de Villiers has played five Test matches for South Africa and one domestic 50-over match. De Villiers complained of a tired body after turning out for his franchise, the Titans in the one-day cup playoff. He scored a hundred in a losing cause that day but was so worn out from the cumulative effects of that match after a Test series that he to be rested from the three-match T20 series against New Zealand, a request which was granted.

In that time, de Villiers also “changed his mind,” according to convenor of selectors Andrew Hudson about ‘keeping at Test level. When de Villiers was required to take over from Mark Boucher in and emergency situation in England, he was reluctant to become the permanent wicket-keeper. During the third Test against Australia in Perth in early December, Hudson spoke to de Villiers again and he asked if he could continue in the role. The selection panel and team management agreed.

But de Villiers ‘keeping at Test level has widespread implications beginning with his own batting. Crouching behind the stumps for extended periods seemed to hinder de Villiers ability to bat with freedom, which South Africa needs him to do. As yet, that theory has not been completely disproved. The 169 he blazed at the WACA came after he was in the field for three overs more than an ODI. Even against New Zealand, where he scored two half-centuries, periods on the park were minimal thanks to the visitor’s short batting time.

It has been enough to convince the powers that be, though and de Villiers will continue as Test wicket-keeper but in order do that, he has had to give up the gloves in shorter formats. Quinton de Kock did the job in the T20s and will do in the ODIs, to allow de Villiers time to develop his leadership style, 18 months after taking over the job.

De Kock’s selection is also a means to ensure de Villiers’ back can be rested, although how much it will be questionable. Gary Kirsten revealed yesterday that de Villiers finds keeping in 50-overs “more intense,” than in a Test. Previously de Villiers went on record saying he found it harder on his body to be in the outfield – where he will now prowl – than to keep wicket.

After the three ODIs, it may be clearer which discipline takes greater toll on de Villiers because his back can be compared to the way it felt after the World T20. Should de Villiers first guess be correct and he comes out worse, he may have to consider ‘keeping again which will require another rethink of South Africa’s limited-overs policy. Should he cope well with fielding again, it could open up another option for South Africa at Test level, the specialist wicket-keeper, should they require it.

As a result, the debate over South Africa’s wicket-keeping options is far from closed. Life after Boucher was always going to be uncertain because of the poor planning that preceded it. Even as Boucher’s form dipped, no clear attempts were made to identify or groom a successor.

At that time, de Villiers himself distanced himself from wicket-keeping permanently as he confirmed his career goal was simply to become the best batsman in the world. Recently, he has spoken of his desire to improve his wicket-keeping, to captain the side as best he can and to contribute with the bat.

To change one’s mind or expand one’s goals is only natural, for the administrators to accommodate that if it works with their team plans is also understandable but it all points to an obvious question that must be asked soon: when does too much room for individual flexibility cause too much disruption to the team’s needs?

Source: ESPN CricInfo – January 18, 2013 / FIRDOSE MOONDA

6000 Test runs for AB

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Congrats on this milestone, AB!

De Villiers relishing dual role in Test side

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Keeping wicket for South Africa and playing a central role as a batsman is a dream come true, AB de Villiers said on Wednesday.

“I really love the position I’m in at the moment with my role as the wicketkeeper and also as a top-order batsman,” De Villiers said.

“I know I will have to perform well, and continually improve my keeping and my batting, because I definitely want to be the Test wicketkeeper for many years.”

Playing such a pivotal role in the side had not affected his batting, De Villiers said, referring to his 169 against Australia in the last Test in Perth six weeks ago.

“I scored a good 100 and feel I’m in good form but I still work hard on my game all the time,” he said.

“Wicketkeeping is something I’ve done since I was about eight. When I came into the side, Mark Boucher was the wicketkeeper, but now I’ve got my opportunity and I hope to prove myself and hold onto the job for a very long time.”

De Villiers’s continuing struggle with his back will not hinder him if his career is managed carefully and he sits out for some of the less crucial games.

“I’ve always had a bit of a weak back. It started at a young age and I’ve worked really hard on it with physio Brandon Jackson. I’ve also taken responsibility by making sure I’m as fit as can be,” he said.

“I didn’t play in the Twenty20s against New Zealand and, although I want to play as much as possible, I have to keep in mind the seasons are much longer these days and I need to be fit for a longer period.”

Having made his Test debut in Port Elizabeth in December 2004, against England, De Villiers said St George’s Park held fond memories for him. He was expecting the wicket to be slower than in Newlands and said the second Test was likely to span the full five days.

“The wicket doesn’t do as much here. It’s a bit slower so you have to work for your wickets and … your runs,” he said. “You will probably see lower run rates from the batsmen as you’ve got to fight hard to get your rewards.”

Source: BDLive – January 10, 2013

AB confident in ‘keeping role

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AB de Villiers is more confident in his role as a wicketkeeper/batsman for the Proteas’ Test line-up, after nearly six months since taking over the position from Mark Boucher.

De Villiers explained the difficulty of adjusting to the sudden change, but is happy with the role as long as it contributes to the team success.

“It took me a while but I’m into a nice rhythm,” De Villiers via a statement released to the media on Sunday.

“I had to adapt to a few things but I feel that I understand what my role is and I make time for both keeping and batting.

“It is definitely possible to do both. I don’t feel tired after a day’s play and I don’t feel tired after a Test match, for me it’s more mental than anything else.”

De Villiers withdrew from the recent T20 series against New Zealand for extra rest, and says the down time has left him mentally and physically refreshed.

“It’s all about managing your energy levels and niggles, ultimately about keeping the passion and hunger to do well for your team,” the Proteas’ vice-captain said. “We play a lot of cricket throughout the year and we are in a situation where we have to manage it (the workload).

“I feel refreshed and hungrier than ever and hopefully the results will show.”

He broke his lean streak with the bat with an excellent century against Australia during the last Test match in Perth, and hopes to continue with that form at Newlands – where the Proteas haven’t lost a Test since 2006 – and into the New Year.

“It was very satisfying,” he said about the 169 at the WACA. “It was nice to get the monkey off my back. Personally I needed to tell myself that I could do it. The doubt creeps in when you don’t perform because you have the gloves in hand and I knew that I was entering a new era of my career and I wanted to perform in a certain way, which I did in that innings.

The Proteas have also set their goals for 2013, where they will look to stretch their lead at the top of the ICC Test rankings.

“There is a real sense of care within the team,” he added. “I am part of an amazing team spirit. We are really looking forward to what is lying ahead in 2013. I believe that, if we come through this year with another solid performance, we have a very good chance to dominate for four or five years around the world.”

The two-Tests series against the Kiwis starts at Newlands from Wednesday.

Source: Sport24 – December 30, 2012