Cape Town – Embattled Proteas one-day international captain AB de Villiers has seemed “away with the fairies”.
He also has had the national side’s Test skipper Faf du Plessis “hovering like Banquo’s ghost”.
So says cricket scribe and former England international Derek Pringle, writing in the latest edition of UK-based weekly The Cricket Paper.
Pringle, who played 30 Tests and 44 ODIs - including the 1992 World Cup final - as a bowling all-rounder between 1982 and 1993, believes the normally electric De Villiers, who flopped at the crease as his charges were bundled out of the IC Champions Trophy early, is battling “more than a crisis of confidence in his batting”.
He wrote: “It is as if De Villiers, a cheerful, upbeat character previously, has suddenly discovered a cupboard full of skeletons.
“It is not just his form in Champions Trophy, either, poor though it (was).
“I commentated on several Indian Premier League matches in which he was playing for Royal Challengers Bangalore and he did not seem switched on at all.
“For someone who was such a brilliantly instinctive batsman it was like an innate power, such as his overwhelming desire to seek a challenge and fashion victory from any situation, had been removed.
“It is damned hot in India at that time of the year but even so, for such a committed cricketer, he seemed to be away with the fairies.
“He has clearly felt that change, for his innings in this tournament (Champions Trophy) have smacked of desperation in the naïve way he has tried to hit his way back into form ... you have to select the right ball to clobber.”
Pringle said his leadership has been “under scrutiny for a while”, something “not helped by Faf du Plessis’ growing reputation as an astute tactician and man-manager.
“With him hovering like Banquo’s ghost, extra scrutiny has been placed on De Villiers’ leadership.”