England v South Africa, 4th NatWest ODI, Lord's September 2, 2012

We are under pressure - de Villiers


AB de Villiers has admitted South Africa's senior batsmen are not pulling their weight in the one-day series against England, and singled himself out as a prime example, after the home side took a 2-1 lead at Lord's following another unconvincing performance from South Africa's top order.

Since Hashim Amla made 150 in Southampton no South Africa batsman has posted a half-century in the next two games at The Oval and Lord's and both innings have struggled for momentum despite solid opening partnerships from Amla and Graeme Smith. At Lord's they slipped from 100 for 1 in the 25th over when Amla was bowled by Ravi Bopara, to 115 for 4 which meant rebuilding was needed, only then to lose their way again from 166 for 4 and finish their allocation eight down.

As at The Oval the key moment came when de Villiers fell to James Tredwell, this time stumped with his foot on the line, and despite a forceful 31 off 20 balls by Robin Peterson they could not post a total to seriously challenge England.

With Amla twice cut-off when set for sizable innings following his monumental display in the second match, South Africa's batting has looked light in the absence of Jacques Kallis - rested for this series. While that was with a view to the World Twenty20, it is also giving South Africa the sight of a slightly uncomfortable future although de Villiers defended the talent available.

"The guys who have come in, they can play," he said. "I've seen them win matches for their teams back home on the big stage in finals and stuff like that. But they are inexperienced and when you have inexperience in your team you need the senior players to take control, including myself. Getting out for 20s and 30s isn't good enough at this level it's as simple as that.

"We had the opportunity in our batting to kick on with some of our partnerships and that's where we went wrong today. That's two in a row and there's a bit of pressure on our top order now. We've really got to step up to the plate and make it count - myself included. We got into nice partnerships but didn't convert like England did."

While victory in this series is gone, South Africa do not want their batting to be dragged down ahead of the World Twenty20 in Sri Lanka; although Kallis will be back to bolster them. De Villiers said the players will discuss their problems before the final match at Trent Bridge on Wednesday.

"We are under pressure and will have a batting meeting about where we can improve. I'd like to think the whole of the top six can play as a unit but we haven't been performing well. Going forward we need more partnerships, that's where you get momentum and we haven't had enough of that. We've had one partnership in every game. There's no excuse, the guys are batting in the places they feel comfortable."

For much of South Africa's visit it has been the England captains fielding the tricky questions, but Alastair Cook was able to reflect on convincing back-to-back victories which have turned the series around after a poor performance in Southampton that threatened to engulf the final few weeks of the season.

"Clearly after what's happened this summer, we could have let our heads go down - a bit of a case of 'here we go again'," he said. "We admitted we didn't get it right at the Ageas Bowl, and we've bounced back really well. We've still got a series to win but I'm very proud of what we've done this weekend in back-to-back matches. It's an encouraging sign that after a heavy loss, we've stayed true to ourselves and played so well."

It was another far from faultless performance in the field with two catches put down and a clear run out chance missed, but the England's bowler's sustained pressure on South Africa's struggling middle order throughout and rarely let the run rate get near five an over.

"We didn't quite get our rewards early," Cook said. "A couple of chances went down but what was really pleasing was we stuck to our task, kept trying to apply pressure and picked up wickets at crucial times."

Cook also confirmed that the extent of Jonathan Trott's hand injury, sustained after a blow from Dale Steyn early in his 48, will be known on Monday after the batsman has X-rays. Trott was in clear discomfort throughout the innings before falling lbw. If he is unavailable for the final match of the series it would open the door for Jonny Bairstow to finally get a chance to bring his impressive form to the 50-over side.

Andrew McGlashan is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dummy4 on September 5, 2012, 9:49 GMT

    With Smith and Amla batting patiently in the top, i think Richard levi should be given a try to uplift the run rate.....I think with T20 world cup nearing he should have been worth the gamble.

  • Ocean on September 4, 2012, 16:06 GMT

    The is no problem with SA team. Its work in progress. Is the bigger picture that is in mind. Whether they lose or not, the ultimate prize is the World Cup. Everybody is being given a chance. Miller, Ingram, Botha, De Lange, are all in mind also. Lets just enjoy the cricket

  • Dummy4 on September 4, 2012, 11:58 GMT

    I am in suspense by watching the selection in SA cricket.wher is the rockki r.levi???rechard levi should get chance for odi.albie morkel should be instead of elger who need more practice for odi.Team would be1.R.levi,2.h.amla,3.j.kallis,4.a.b devillier,5.f.duplesis,6.j.p duminy,7.r.peterson,8,j.botha,9.d.steyn,10.d.lange,11.l.totsobe

  • Saul on September 4, 2012, 11:09 GMT

    A recurring theme throughout this tour has been consistent good performances by an english batsmen called "extras". SA discipline with the ball has been a little poor. 23 in this 4th odi, and that could have been the difference in the sides.

  • Peter on September 4, 2012, 9:46 GMT

    Faf needs to bat higher in my opinion and he should replace Smith who's batting like a raging bull, charging at everything. My ideal SA(ODI) side will look like: 1-Faf du Plessis, 2-Hashim Amla, 3-JP Duminy, 4-Jacques Kallis, 5-AB de Villiers, 6-David Miller, 7-Albie Morkel, 8-Johan Botha, 9-Wayne Parnell/Marchant de Lange(When fit), 10-Dale Steyn, 11-Morne Morkel... We can rotate Morne with Lopsy, Botha with Robbie/Tahir, Faf with De Kock/Ingram if those guys dont perform. Elgar is not a ODI player, he should only play test cricket. I wont risk Vernon for ODI's, he's just too valuable. He'll soon become the best all rounder in test cricket.

  • Rob on September 4, 2012, 7:17 GMT

    RandyOZ: After clobbering England into submission in the test series, its no wonder SA are off to a sluggish start- a carbon copy of the last Ashes and ensuing ODI's.

  • Dummy4 on September 3, 2012, 23:34 GMT

    I think they should pick the Morkels for the final game inplace of Elgar & Mclaren.I'm sure it'll be a much stronger XI.

  • Randolph on September 3, 2012, 13:32 GMT

    @Hammond, welcome back from your extended summer. You'd be happy you missed the test series. England were belted to all parts and shown up to be the #5 or 6th ranked team they really are!

  • Randolph on September 3, 2012, 13:25 GMT

    After clobbering England into submission in the test series, its no wonder SA are off to a sluggish start. They expected a cakewalk, but with Swann dropped England have lost their weakest link so they aren't so easy. Still a very average team though so expect SA to come back.

  • Dummy4 on September 3, 2012, 13:21 GMT

    I am really baffled with this South Africa ODI Team Selection. Where are the likes of Levi, Ingram, Miller, Morkel? According to my ideas the RSA ODI Team should be one of the strongest given the have a team like - 1. Levi 2. Amla 3. Ingram 4. Kallis 5. De Villers 6. Miller 7. Duminy / Du Plessis 8. Albie Morkel 9. Robin Peterson 10. Steyn 11. Morkel. And you still would have players like Mclaren, Parnell, Smith, Petersen, Tsotsobe in the bench whom you can rotate with others when required. The team has experienced members like Kallis, Devillers, Amla with youth like Ingram, Miller, Faf etc.Even you can use the likes of Albie Morkel at no 3 for pinch hitting as well. Albie always comes only with 10-12 balls remaining with a pressure of hitting 6s in his shoulders. If they field this kind of side they can really become invincible in ODI format as well. But really feeling sorry with the team selection for this England Series.

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