Sri Lanka in SA

It will get tougher: AB

2012-01-23 13:48
AB de Villiers (Gallo)
Johannesburg - While enjoying his early success at the helm of the national limited overs team, Proteas limited overs captain AB de Villiers says he is aware that it will not always be plain sailing.


De Villiers guided South Africa to a 3-2 victory over Sri Lanka in his maiden one-day international (ODI) series as captain and was named Man of the Series as the top runs scorer from either side.

The wicketkeeper-batsman made 329 runs in the five matches at an average of 109.66, including an unbeaten 125 and 96.

"Captaincy is hard work but I'm enjoying it and it's great that I'm leading by example at the moment," De Villiers said after Sri Lanka secured a consolation two-wicket victory at the Wanderers at the weekend.

"I know I will get my tough patches in the future and I'll have to work through that, but I'm playing well at the moment and using that to my advantage.

"I'm still following the same game plans but timing it a bit sweeter than normal."

De Villiers said he had become more aware, after his first tour as skipper, that the examples he set both on and off the field had a significant impact on the team.

"I realised that the guys feed off my energy and it's very important for me to be calm and in control the whole time," he said.

"Leading from the front, not only with bat in hand, and with catching and so on, but the way I present myself out there, has a big influence.

"It was really tough at times but I think it's one of the most important things that I learned."

Hoping for a series whitewash, or at least a 4-1 win, the Proteas were outplayed in the last match at the Wanderers.

De Villiers, however, was full of admiration for former captain Graeme Smith, who made 125 runs at the top of the order after being severely criticised by the media and the public for his recent batting displays.

It was Smith's first century in 36 ODI innings.

"I thought our boys batted really well as it was tough in the beginning, especially in the first 10 overs," he said.

"Then it flattened out nicely and I'm really proud of the way Graeme batted through.

"We all are -- we're really proud of the man -- that's the least he deserved and going forward he'll take a lot of confidence and momentum with him to New Zealand."

In an unusual strategy, the Proteas rotated their middle-order batsmen depending on match situations.

"There is no set plan, and we will play it by ear on the day," said the skipper.

"Gary [Kirsten] and I decide which individual is best suited to the situation and he will go out and bat.

"We'll just mix it up as right- and left-hand combinations are also important when a spinner is bowling well, and it makes it a bit tougher for the spinner to settle."

De Villiers said their philosophy to take things one step at a time would continue as the team prepared to embark on their tour of New Zealand in February.

"Our goal was to win both the Tests and the ODIs against Sri Lanka and we did that," he said.

"We could have won the ODIs a bit more convincingly but it didn't happen that way.

"We'll go to New Zealand and that's a new challenge and our next goal.

"Obviously our long term goals are being number one in the world and winning a world cup.

"That's a huge dream for all of us and hopefully we'll get there, but for now, we'll just focus on getting ready for the New Zealand tour and performing well there."

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