London – Considering his reference to a time-honoured writing object, you might say AB de Villiers was suitably, well, blunt in his reply.
The little curveball came right at the end of Saturday’s otherwise routine, pretty cordial captain’s press conference ahead of the do-or-die ICC Champions Trophy clash between South Africa and India at The Oval here (Sunday, 11:30 SA time).
With what perhaps significantly turned out to be the final question taken, Proteas skipper De Villiers was asked by one of the Indian journalists whether “it is fair to say your captaincy is on the line in this tournament”, going into the effective quarter-final.
“Do I think …?”, he sought clarity on the inquiry.
The scribe repeated: “Your captaincy is on the line in this tournament …”
De Villiers was then rather readier with his retort: “I think my captaincy is pretty good. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed every second out there … lost the last game (against Pakistan) so that is never ideal for a captain, but I understand what I am trying to do out there; really enjoy the (job).
“I think I make some good calls, but the pencil is in your hand. Unfortunately I can’t control what you are going to write.
“But in my mind I am a good captain, so that’s unfortunately I (guess) going to come down to the result again tomorrow … hopefully a good one.”
De Villiers is the Proteas’ most celebrated batsman, and still sitting at No 1 on the ICC world one-day international rankings, although the national captaincies are split with Faf du Plessis, who is more regularly available for all formats than De Villiers these days and leads the Test and Twenty20 teams.
He confirmed at the outset of the press conference that he was “100 percent” for the India date after his hamstring trouble a few days earlier at Edgbaston.
*Rob Houwing is attending the Champions Trophy for Sport24. Follow our chief writer on Twitter: @RobHouwing