ODI skipper AB ‘crapping himself’

Sunday, 21 August 2011

While Gary Kirsten’s appointment as national coach surprised no one, the same cannot be said about the choice of AB de Villiers as South Africa’s limited overs captain.
Superb batsmen, electrifying fielder (both with and without the gloves) dynamic cheerleader, so-so singer, but captain? Sure there’d been whispers in team circles in recent years about a successor to Graeme Smith, and De Villiers’ name was among them. However, it was no more than a courtesy nomination – he was young, his place in the side was cemented, why not put his name down – seemed to be the reasoning of those who’d put him forward as a future national captain.
With two World Cups under his belt, over 119 ODI caps and more than 4 500 runs to his name, he has experience. However, when Smith had previously been unable to captain to the ODI side, leadership usually fell to Johan Botha or Jacques Kallis.
However, with Smith standing down as one-day captain after the World Cup, the time to make a move had come and certainly Cricket South Africa appeared flustered when it came to making the appointment of his replacement, leaving it mostly to Kirsten to decide.
De Villiers admitted Friday he was “crapping” himself at the prospect of skippering the team this summer. “I haven’t captained a lot, I last captained in high school so the experience isn’t there,” De Villiers remarked. “You can’t say what kind of captain I’m going to be, I don’t even know that myself. One thing I know is I’ll make mistakes. But I must be open and honest when I make them and learn from them.
“I’ve always been a massive believer in team play and team spirit so that is something I will concentrate on, to get that ‘never-say-die’ attitude going.”
Honesty and openness have perhaps been missing from the South African team when they have gone into World Cups or knockout matches at the major ICC tournaments. De Villiers’s frank description of his feelings ahead of the season should be welcomed. Besides improving his golf swing during the lengthy break the national players have had this winter, he’s also consulted outside of cricket circles about leadership most notably with former Springbok captain Francois Pienaar.
“He’s shared a few tips, we’ve talked about the importance of leading by example. That’s definitely something I want to do, you’ve got to play well and win games from nowhere and the rest of the boys will follow. I know that because I’ve seen Graeme do that. I’ve taken confidence from things he’s done, believing that nothing is impossible.”
Understandably De Villiers will look to Smith, Kirsten and the other senior players for assistance, certainly initially as he seeks to become more comfortable as captain and attempts to adopt a style of leadership. “We didn’t lose the quarter-finals of the World Cup because we’re a bad cricket side; it’s because the big players didn’t stand up when it mattered most and I include myself in that. It’s in those big moments where World Cups are won and it’s where your best players must stand up and that’s one thing I’ll be pushing to get the best out of the senior players.”
One contentious decision De Villiers wants made soon concerns his future as the one-day team’s wicketkeeper – he’d like the matter sorted by the end of the camp Kirsten has planned for Arabella starting on August 29.
“My gut feel is not to take the gloves. I’ll be a better captain for the side, which is more important than being a ’keeper,” he stated. “There are positives on both sides and negatives; it puts the balance of the side out of sync. Of course it will open up a spot if I take the gloves knowing that I’m a top order batsmen. We have to make a calculated decision between the selectors and the management team.”


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