AB: I'd like to push myself down

2014-11-20 14:05
AB de Villiers (AFP)

Johannesburg - He is often considered the best batsman in the world, with a batting average of 52.61 in one-day cricket. His strokeplay is expansive and his temperament unmatched.

This number four batsman could well hold the key to winning the World Cup next year.

The only problem for the Proteas is that this batsman is India's Virat Kohli who, in his last five ODIs has scored 329 runs at an average of 82.25.

South Africa's AB de Villiers is the only batsman listed above Kohli in the current batting rankings of the 50-over version of the game, and yet he continues to change his batting position from his best-suited number four spot in the South African lineup to aid his team depending on the circumstances.

De Villiers came in at number five in the Proteas 73 run defeat to Australia, in Canberra, on Tuesday. The Proteas now trail their hosts 2-1 in the five-match series.

The left-handed Rilee Rossouw, who is still finding his way in ODI cricket with 94 runs in eight matches at an average of under 12, was sent in at number four ahead of De Villiers. The experiment did not work, Rossouw made just two.

The skipper, meanwhile, looked untroubled from his first ball at the crease and wove his way effortlessly to a 34-ball 52 before he was dismissed lbw playing across the line - an inventive shot he could no doubt normally pull off with ease. But the Proteas were 224 for three in pursuit of 330 to win, and with 13.1 overs remaining the pressure was mounting with 106 still needed for victory.

Rossouw also came in ahead of De Villiers in the second ODI where South Africa made heavy weather of chasing down 155 to win, although they prevailed by three wickets in the end.

In the first ODI, Farhaan Behardien was given the number four slot as he laboured to 20 off 22 balls before he was sent back to the changeroom.

Despite 80 off 76 balls from De Villiers in that match, South Africa still fell to heavy 32 run defeat.

It seems Proteas coach Russell Domingo and De Villiers alternate his batting position according to the situation to remain one step ahead of the opposition. Instead, the opposite is quite often achieved.

De Villiers explained his thought process behind his change in position following Tuesday's loss to the Aussies.

"We did chat about it, after about 10 or 15 overs there was a quick discussion between Russell and myself," said De Villiers.

"And we both felt we wanted to take it deep exactly for the reason that what happened here, with us getting bowled out. Ideally, we wouldn't like to have that."

De Villiers said he would like to be in the position to help get his side over the line wherever possible.

"With my experience I'd like to push myself down to make sure we still have a chance at the end.

"We felt if I could still be there with a top order batsman after 40 overs we'd still have a good chance of winning the game."

Attributing the Proteas loss solely to the batting position of De Villiers would not be fair though, as South Africa have been missing allrounder JP Duminy for the ODI series.

Duminy was withdrawn ahead of the start if the ODI series with a knee problem and returned home for six weeks of rest and rehabilitation.

Being short of an experienced middle-order batsman has exposed a frailty in the depth of the South African side.

De Villiers was in no doubt about how much his side lacked the presence of Duminy in the lineup.

"He plays a big part in our team. He really balances the team nicely. He gives that extra option (with the bowling).

"Also his finishing ability in that middle order is priceless. But it's a nice opportunity to give the other guys a run."

Read more on:    proteas  |  ab de villiers  |  cricket

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