Cape Town - Former Proteas Test batsman Daryll Cullinan has questioned why AB de Villiers bats down at No 5 in the South African Test line-up.
The Proteas are under pressure heading into Wednesday’s third Test against India in Nagpur, with the hosts leading the four-Test series 1-0.
India won the first Test in Mohali by 108 runs, before rain washed out the second Test in Bangalore.
A big talking point thus far in the series has been the South African batsmen's struggles against the Indian spinners, and Cullinan feels the world’s best batsman should come in earlier to lead the Proteas’ charge.
"I think AB de Villiers should bat at No 3. It's a huge disappointment for me that our big player is hiding in the middle order,” Cullinan told the Times of India.
“He has got to bat up front and lead the batting. Throughout his career, De Villiers has batted in the middle order, which is the easy option.
“In one-day cricket too, he bats too low. In Tests, he floats at No 4 or 5. His natural position should be No 3. Unfortunately for South Africa, the best players are running scared and not prepared to take the pressure. He should take the pressure and not run away from it. He is the man in form; he is scoring runs and looking in extremely good touch.”
According to Cullinan, the rest of the SA batting line-up appears to fear the Indian spinners.
"There are a lot of things on their minds. They look to be in fear of getting out. They have to overcome that fear and defend a lot better. They have to rotate the strike. (Ravichandran) Ashwin is a good bowler but he is not (Anil) Kumble. I think they perhaps read too much into spin, read too much into pitches. They have to be lot more confident in terms of their defence."
Cullinan also said it’s time experienced campaigners like Hashim Amla, Faf du Plessis and JP Duminy start scoring runs to take some pressure off De Villiers’ shoulders.
Cullinan, 48, scored 4 554 runs at an average of 44.21 in 70 Tests for South Africa.