Proteas in England
Proteas eye final hurdle
AB de Villiers (Gallo Images)
Chester-le-street - The Blue Label Proteas’ journey to the ICC World T20 begins on Saturday with the first Natwest T20 International against England at Chester-le-Street.
This is the final stop of what has been a long and mentally challenging tour of the UK, before the squad heads to Sri Lanka for the ultimate glory.
“It’s a whole new format, we are obviously looking forward to the World T20 in Sri Lanka and this is the perfect preparation for us going forward,” captain, AB de Villiers said on the eve of the match.
“We have a few new faces joining us again, we need that after being here for a long time. We are very happy with the way we finished off in the ODI’s after a disappointing couples of losses in the middle stage of the series. I thought the boys showed character and we’ll take a bit of confidence and momentum from that.”
Avoiding a mental burn-out is something Gary Kirsten and the coaching staff are “aware” of, and with over a month to go until the squad returns home, it is a situation that is being monitored carefully. De Villiers is part of the crop of players who endure a demanding schedule by playing all three formats, but feels that he has managed his workload efficiently.
“I’m fresh and ready to go,” he said about his own mental state. “I’m enjoying the game more than I ever have and I’m loving the challenge of the captaincy and the gloves in hand. It’s keeping me on my toes and I believe that it brings out the best in me. I have a wonderful unit that I’m captaining, it’s nice to see the guys playing well and I’m looking forward to what is going to be an exciting time.”
De Villiers also feels the fast-paced nature of the format will go a long way in revitalising the mind and energy levels.
“T20’s fly by at pace,” he added. “You can almost see the finish line which is a positive thing, even though we have been here for a while. Some of the guys may be a bit mentally fatigued but this format really energises you.
“We’re looking forward to a whole new setting in Sri Lanka as well, that new setup will energise the players so it’s not too bad.”