Sri Lanka in SA

Expect some mistakes - AB

2012-01-10 16:17
AB de Villiers (Gallo Images)
Rob Houwing, Sport24 chief writer

Cape Town - Proteas star AB de Villiers was nothing if not honest at his maiden captain’s press conference ahead of the first one-day international against Sri Lanka at Paarl on Wednesday.

In an articulate, confident first obligation of that kind at Newlands on Tuesday afternoon, De Villiers, who has taken the ODI reins from long-serving team-mate Graeme Smith, warned that he would make errors in his earliest matches in charge.

“I’m younger and less experienced than Graeme, so expect a few mistakes. We’re obviously different human beings and won’t be the same out on the field.

“I also won’t be scared to try out new things, to express a bit of flair, hopefully to the benefit of the team.

“I know I’ll have Graeme at my shoulder but he’s also said he’ll let me go; captain the way I want to. He won’t interfere but he’ll certainly help out when I do go a little wayward!”

It has been a delayed start to De Villiers’s leadership career, considering that he missed the Australian ODI series - won by the visitors - through injury.

“Yes, it’s taken a while ... but I got to spend a bit of useful time observing strategy from the side of the field which helped quite a bit. I’m ready now, very excited ... it won’t be easy, I’m prepared to make those mistakes but hopefully learn from them as I establish myself as captain.”

Based at a central city hotel, the Proteas opting not to do any of their preparation for the encounter at Boland Park itself has raised an eyebrow or two.

“There are a few reasons. I think it was important the day before the game not to have a five-hour session - it’s obviously a long drive out there, 45 minutes and then back. Newlands is just around the corner for (preparation purposes).

“We’ll be going to Paarl a bit earlier tomorrow to get a feel for the ground. The boys are looking forward to it, though. Obviously it will be a bit hotter out there and the pitch is normally a little bit dry and perhaps Subcontinent-like. But we’ve played really good cricket in those conditions for a few years now.”

Asked about the likely team - South Africa have a 14-man squad - De Villiers said: “We’ve got a good idea what we want to do. We haven’t decided yet, but there’s a team meeting tonight where we’ll pick the final XI.”

He did drop a broad hint that, of the two left-arm seamers recently returned from layoffs, Lonwabo Tsotsobe was likely to pip Warriors team-mate Wayne Parnell to a spot.

“They’re both young guys, and Lopsy especially has done really well for a couple of seasons now. He’s confident. Wayne perhaps has a week or so to go before he gets into that zone again. He’s got a bit of work to do, but is looking really strong and has had a few good domestic performances too.”

Might they play both frontline spinners, Johan Botha and Robin Peterson?

“It’s possible. We’ll discuss it tonight. We have two world-class spinners there. But there are other options in JP (Duminy) and Faf (du Plessis).”

When it came to discussion of his likely batting position, in his new dispensation as captain and wicketkeeper, De Villiers said: “Very good question. It’s something Gary (Kirsten) and I have discussed for a few weeks.

“I’d like to think we’ll be on our toes over that; for example not have two left-handers at the crease at the same time. So I might be floating a little bit.

“I don’t want to open a can of worms, but I’m looking to bat at No 4; obviously that’s where I have scored a lot of runs. We won’t be one-dimensional. Gary is big on that. For now I’m at four.”

He also confirmed his long-term commitment to the limited-overs glove-work for South Africa.

“Yes, it’s something we’ve decided on for the future. It’s not a short-term thing. We’ll stick to it for a while. It’s exciting for me and good for the balance of the team as it opens up a spot.”

He pinpointed an area where he felt the Proteas could improve from the Aussie series defeat.

“There is one aspect to work on, I believe ... identifying a certain situation, like when exactly we feel we’ve got to do the game-break thing. I thought at times we missed a trick here or there; didn’t attack at the right time. We’ve addressed it over the past few days and it’s something we’d like to bring out a bit more.”

*Follow our chief writer on Twitter: @RobHouwing

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