Cape Town - Never mind the rankings or even the result of the series, AB de Villiers needs to look no further than the prospect of doing another captain’s press-conference like the last two for reason to make sure his team win the fifth and final ODI at Trent Bridge in Nottingham on Wednesday.
According to the supersport.com website, De Villiers used the phrase “we just didn’t play well enough” no less than seven times at Lord’s on Sunday evening as the post-match analysis began into another tepid, lacklustre batting performance from the tourists who mustered just 220/8 after being asked to bat first.
“We needed to build partnerships and we didn’t. We had another good opening partnership but that was it. International cricket is all about building partnerships and you’re not going to win matches if you only have one good partnership which we have in the last couple of games,” de Villiers said. “We just didn’t play well enough.”
The captain admitted that there “pressure for places” may now start building in the middle order unless performance levels were raised. He also defended the fluidity of the batting order which sees JP Duminy, Dean Elgar, Faf du Plessis and himself change places between numbers three and six on a match-by-match basis.
“There’s a lot of things which go into deciding who bats where. How the old the ball is, right and left-handers, the match situation and how many overs there are left. It is a concept we have all bought into and we’re happy with it. We just didn’t play well enough.”
De Villiers also refused to concede that the inexperience of Elgar and Ryan McLaren had anything to do with Sunday’s defeat: “They can both really play - I’ve seen them win many matches back at home. They might be a bit inexperienced at international level but that just means that the senior, experienced players need to step up to the plate, set an example and take responsibility. We didn’t do that,” De Villiers said.
Asked about losing the No 1 ranking to England - even if they win on Wednesday - De Villiers maintained it was immaterial: “It was never our focus before this tour. I didn’t even know where we were ranked. Anyway, you can’t think or talk about world rankings when you are only playing at 70 percent capacity.”