New Zealand in South Africa 2012-13 January 20, 2013

De Villiers suspended for rest of NZ series


South Africa will be without their ODI captain, AB de Villiers, for the rest of the series against New Zealand. De Villiers was suspended for two matches after a slow over rate in the first one-dayer in Paarl while the entire South Africa team were fined 100% of their match fees. Faf du Plessis will lead the side in de Villiers' absence and Dolphins batsman David Miller has been called up as a replacement batsman.

The match referee, David Boon, judged that South Africa were six overs short of their target. According to the ICC's Code of Conduct, a captain receives two suspension points for a serious over-rate offence (more than two overs short). Players are fined 10% of match fees for the first two overs that go over time and for every additional over the side fails to bowl, the players are fined a further 20%. Two suspension points is the equivalent of a Test match or two ODIs.

De Villiers pleaded guilty to the transgression. "We accept that the over rate was slow and we know that anything above two overs is regarded as a serious offence," Mohammed Moosajee, South Africa's team manager, told ESPNCricinfo.

Moosajee cited various reasons for the extra time South Africa needed but did not name the power failure at the ground as one of them. An electrical outage caused the scoreboard, amongst other things, to go down during New Zealand's innings but de Villiers said the umpires did a "good job" of keeping everyone informed on the state of the game. "It was very hot, in the upper thirties throughout the day with no wind in the afternoon," Moosajee said. "AB is also a new captain and getting used to the pace of the game. But we take full responsibility for the slow over rate."

Ironically, team management hoped to use this series to allow de Villiers to become more accustomed to captaincy and so took the wicketkeeping gloves away from him. De Villiers has been in the job for 18 months since July 2011 and has captained South Africa in two five-match ODI series (against Sri Lanka and England), a Twenty20 series against England and the World T20 in Sri Lanka. Still, he felt he needed to develop a better understanding of leadership, which will now have to wait for the limited-overs series against Pakistan in February-March.

De Villiers stood in the covers for most of the first match and felt it gave him a better grip on the game. "I missed the keeping a bit because I really got used to it in the Test matches but it was enjoyable to be out in the field," he said. "I had time to communicate with the bowlers and get the fields right." In the aftermath, it would seem he used up too much time in doing that.

Defending a small target of 208, de Villiers needed to position his fielders carefully and South Africa able to take the match down to the wire. Immediately afterwards, he said he was pleased with the way the bowlers fought back after a sub-standard performance with the bat.

"We were under pressure and we probably should not even have come close," he said. "The bowlers did everything they could. They got nine wickets today, where we should have lost by seven or eight wickets. We didn't get enough runs. Not batting the 50 overs in ODI cricket is obviously a sin. We put the bowlers under a lot of pressure and they responded really well. We are still finding our way and finding that team spirit that we want and we're not far away from winning close games like this."

South Africa's ODI building phase will now take a backseat as they prioritise victory in two must-win matches if they hope to win the series. Already, they are without the rested Jacques Kallis and JP Duminy, who is recovering from injury. With de Villiers also out, the batting line-up lacks experience.

Hashim Amla, the designated vice-captain, asked not to be considered for the captaincy in order to focus on his batting, CSA selection convener, Andrew Hudson, said. Du Plessis lead South Africa to a 2-1 win in the T20 series over New Zealand last month, when de Villiers was resting.

"Losing AB for the remainder of the series is obviously a big blow to us, particularly as he is still growing in the captaincy and needs every opportunity ahead of the ICC Champions Trophy in the middle of the year," Hudson said. "At the same time it is an opportunity for David Miller who has been on the fringes of our 50-overs thinking. He is a superb finisher who had a strike rate of 98 in the domestic competition and also did very well for Yorkshire in last year's England domestic T20 competition."

When de Villiers makes his return, he will be monitored closely. If he is guilty of slow over rates in the next 12 months, he would receive between two and eight suspension points, which would see him missing out on a significant number of ODIs - and with the Champions Trophy looming, South Africa will not want to risk that.

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Ivan on January 21, 2013, 21:08 GMT

    This whole fiasco is going to come back to bite other teams yet & when that happens their officials might not grovel like SA's have. Did Moosajee at least enquire how Boon's assessment was arrived at? SA bowled 15 wides & 3 no-balls & this means that they rebowled 18 deliveries or 3 overs. Now is the match referee saying that SA were 6 overs short in addition to these 3 rebowled overs? If so, AB was seriously remiss in assessing the ongoing situation. I remember Rory Kleinveldt bowling 3 wides in one over. Did AB remonstrate with him? He certainly should have. I'm beginning to see why teams are using "surrogate" captains to take the rap in case something like this happens.

  • Imran on January 21, 2013, 18:24 GMT

    The ICC needs to get the fingers out and tackle issues that actually have a baring on the match played rather than something so trival.

  • mahjut on January 21, 2013, 12:38 GMT

    A 'full' SA ODI team of [Smith, Amla, Kallis, AB, Faf, JP, de Kock, Johan Botha*, Morne, Dale and Tsotsie] would be hard to beat. Rotation is probably vital these days, but only two a match (and only one when you already have a 'first' team player injured). otherwise, well played NZ, but hope SA come back strongly next match...

  • Ivan on January 21, 2013, 10:59 GMT

    @ marktc. Well, is doesn't really make sense to say they bowled well and then refer to the 31 extras. In fact any bowling unit conceding 31 extras including 15 wides & some no balls in a total of 209 bowled poorly. So for AB to say they did well is nonsense. I agree that AB is not the best candidate for captain but who would you suggest as WK? de Kock made no errors that I saw & most certainly is the best long term solution as WK. Personally I think given a little time he could push hard for a place purely as a batsman. I'd much rather have him than Elgar any day.

  • Mark on January 21, 2013, 9:59 GMT

    Some interesting thoughts coming out of this. AB to me is not the best candidate for captain. Faf should have a longer run and see his results. The slow over rate ban is pretty daft. Fines of up to 50% of their match fee, but 100%? South Africa were well short and yes, they bowled well...and if thy had not conceeded those 31 extras, we may have one. De Kock also is not my behind the stump choice. Funny how a cricket team can be the most awesome test unit..and an average one day side.

  • Anver on January 21, 2013, 9:43 GMT

    Playing without their ace player AB will give, NZ has a chance of a rare series win against Proteas..... already 1/0 NZ will surely go all out in the 2nd game to clinch the consolation series win, after their extremely poor effort in Tests !!!!

  • Jurie on January 21, 2013, 8:32 GMT

    AB is a highly talented cricketer, but clearly he has seriously struggled with captaincy, he just doesn't seem to be able to control things on the field (and I'm not talking about results, which you can't control) - there have been a few examples, including the World T20 vs Pak when he bowled Kallis and Morkel instead of Botha and especially this last match.

    I know he is learning, but at what price and does he actually have the ability to be an international captain?

    I say we shouldn't over burden him, let him play as a specialist batsman, let Faf captain the ODI side and let's try to resolve the wicket keeping issue, which seems to be a mess and not driven by clear agreement and roles.

  • Tom on January 21, 2013, 6:41 GMT

    Odd that no mention is made of NZ over rate. I watched the first innings (sadly) and there is no way NZ were on target to bowl 50 overs by the scheduled break. Have they also been punished? Or only SA?

  • adeel on January 20, 2013, 23:18 GMT

    i agree with others that this rule is just pathetic! slow overrate so what. then banning the captain for 2 matches and fining the team 100% match fee! what deh? is ICC really fallen that cheap to start making money of player's fee. also what are umpires doing on the field? shouldn't they hurry up the captain?

    the best rule would be if a side is guilty of slow over rate, penalise them 5 runs for every over they are slow. throw away this stupid rule of banning and fining captains/players !! wake up icc !

  • nicholas on January 20, 2013, 23:06 GMT

    Best chance nz are ever going to get . Don't think dale will get rested s.a won't want to loose A series to nz

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