AB to settle in No 4 slot
Johannesburg - South Africa captain AB de Villiers is set to return to the linchpin No 4 position in ODIs and opening in the T20 batting line-up, with the others batting around him, it was confirmed on Sunday ahead of the tour of Sri Lanka.
De Villiers, despite being regarded as South Africa's most dangerous limited-overs player, has floated around the batting order in recent years, but said this should come to an end as the Proteas embark on their first assignment under new head coach Russell Domingo.
"I think we'll see a more constant batting order and I'm a number four batsman," De Villiers said at the OR Tambo International Airport, a few hours before their departure for Sri Lanka on Sunday night.
"We played around a bit with the batting order because of circumstances in some games, but there are a lot of batsmen in the squad and we're waiting for guys to put their hands up in the top-order. we're waiting for guys to make those places their own."
T20 captain Faf du Plessis then confirmed he wanted De Villiers to open the batting in the shortest format of the game.
"The plan is for AB to open, I really like him up front," Du Plessis said.
"He's one of the world's best batsmen and he has time up front to really do some damage."
Although the Champions Trophy ended in another bitter disappointment for South Africa in an ICC event, De Villiers said the team were able to collect numerous lessons from the tournament.
"We know there's lots of room for improvement and I can tell you more than 10 things we learnt from the Champions Trophy," De Villiers said.
"But it basically boils down to playing the big moments better. Against England in the semi-final we were found wanting, we got down under pressure and we need to get better in those situations.
"I'm tired of that word 'consistency', but unfortunately it's the area we have to improve. It's down to doing the basics really well and finding our rhythm as a team."
Du Plessis said his eyes were firmly on the ICC World Twenty20 tournament in Bangladesh next April and he wanted to gather as much information as possible on playing in sub-continental conditions.
"It's important that we play a lot in those conditions with the World Cup in Bangladesh next year and it's nice to see that we're playing three T20s," Du Plessis said.
"The more we play, the more chance it gives me just to learn as captain and it's more opportunities for the younger players. And the more we are placed in certain situations out there, the better."
South Africa will play five One Day Internationals and three T20 internationals in Sri Lanka, with the first ODI in Colombo on Saturday.
South Africa squads:
One-day internationals: AB de Villiers, Hashim Amla, Farhaan Behardien, Quinton de Kock, Faf du Plessis, JP Duminy, Colin Ingram, Rory Kleinveldt, Ryan McLaren, David Miller, Morne Morkel, Chris Morris, Alviro Petersen, Robin Peterson, Aaron Phangiso, Lonwabo Tsotsobe.
T20: Faf du Plessis, Farhaan Behardien, Henry Davids, Quinton de Kock, AB de Villiers, JP Duminy, Imran Tahir, Rory Kleinveldt, Ryan McLaren, David Miller, Morne Morkel, Chris Morris, Wayne Parnell, Aaron Phangiso, Lonwabo Tsotsobe, David Wiese.
Saturday, July 20 - 1st ODI (Premadasa Stadium, Colombo).
Tuesday, July 23 - 2nd ODI (Premadasa Stadium, Colombo).
Friday, July 26 - 3rd ODI (Pallekele International Cricket Stadium, Kandy).
Sunday, July 28 - 4th ODI (Pallekele International Cricket Stadium, Kandy).
Wednesday, July 31 - 5th ODI (Premadasa Stadium, Colombo).
Friday, August 2 - 1st T20 (Premadasa Stadium, Colombo).
Sunday, August 4 - 2nd T20 (Mahinda Rajapaksa International Cricket Stadium, Hambantota).
Tuesday, August 6 - 3rd T20 (Mahinda Rajapaksa International Cricket Stadium, Hambantota).