England v South Africa, 5th NatWest ODI, Trent Bridge September 5, 2012

Late inspiration aids de Villiers


A last-minute change of tactics by AB de Villiers put South Africa on the road to squaring the one-day series after a quick chat with Gary Kirsten led him to open the bowling with Robin Peterson's left-arm spin. Peterson soon removed the in-form Ian Bell and it set the tone for a dominant performance from the visitors who finished the series by cantering to a seven-wicket victory.

It was not the first time Peterson had got the better of England with the new ball. He did significant damage during the World Cup match in Chennai last year where he removed Andrew Strauss and Kevin Pietersen in his first over and then added Bell a short while later. While his impact at Trent Bridge was less dramatic it meant England had lost one of their key top-order players, and Peterson later returned to claim two more scalps and finish with 3 for 37.

"That was a late call from me," de Villiers said. "I just discussed it with Gazza (Kirsten) before we went out and said go with your gut feeling. We only had three seamers, I was going to have to bowl a lot of spin and I thought I might buy myself a couple of overs and even pick up a wicket. Robin has done it before and has always been successful. It's never nice as an opener to face a spinner, you want the ball coming into your bat. It paid off today so I'm very chuffed."

Spin played an important part for South Africa during the innings as their part-time bowlers, JP Duminy and Faf du Plessis, both claimed important breakthroughs in their opening overs. Duminy had Eoin Morgan caught at mid-on for a duck and du Plessis could barely believe his good fortune when Alastair Cook spooned back a full toss. De Villiers, as captain, could do no wrong.

"It doesn't always pay off but I just went with my gut feeling," he said. "It was important to change the pace of the game, I felt they had started to settle in nicely. It's not nice when you are set and the captain keeps changing things. It came off today."

Although there was the common sight of Hashim Amla making a significant score as South Africa overcame a wobble at 14 for 3, the run chase also marked de Villiers' first international half-century of the tour.

"It's been a fairly quiet summer for me but a very enjoyable one," he said. "I felt I was in good form right throughout the Test series and today; it's always nice to play under pressure.

"It was a very important series for us and we didn't want to go down here," he added. "It's always hard to play here, England know the conditions really well. For a very brief moment after Southampton we had a chance to win the series but we had a couple of ODIs in row where we just weren't up for it and didn't play good cricket. But the fact we came back here and played good cricket, I'm very proud of the boys."

Cook was a far more frustrated captain after watching the batting line-up subside for 182 to a collection of poor shots in a performance that he had not seen the like of before.

"We're clearly very frustrated and disappointed - especially with the manner of the dismissals," he said. "I don't think I've played in a game where we've given away so many dismissals before. These things can happen. It's very frustrating when it does happen to you, especially in a series that's there to win.

"All of us, from one to 11, just played some pretty poor shots. I don't know why. As a side, our real challenge has always been to be as consistent as we can. We've made huge strides at that. But there's always that performance in there, which we're trying to eradicate."

Andrew McGlashan is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • pushkar on September 6, 2012, 12:40 GMT

    It's always fascinating to watch 2 closely matched teams battle it out. And if the 2 teams are at the top of the table then the quality of cricket is fascinating as was the case with SA and England. Another 2 tests like @edgie and @ballonbat say would have been awesome. IF England are putting their bets on tests then they should have negotiated a 5 test tour. This has been my favorite contest (ODI and tests)

  • Dummy4 on September 6, 2012, 10:14 GMT

    "I just discussed it with Gazza (Kirsten) before we went out and said go with your gut feeling." Gary Kirsten is a legend. I think the next three years might well belong to SA.

  • Lloyd on September 6, 2012, 9:55 GMT

    I agree with Shix , the batting is vulnerable because the top 6 are not specialist batters who do not consistently score( but are capable)so its a constant tinker with the order which doesnt help. But more of a concern is settling on the bowling attack.That will determine how many "bits and pieces" or all rounders are included. Maybe a 5:3 ratio should be adopted. 5 specialist batters and 3 bowlers the rest all rounders which some will argue that is what the current setup is.England bring in new players on a regular basis and they perform because there core format is set.

  • Steven on September 6, 2012, 7:51 GMT

    @edgie 2 - 2 is very one-sided.

  • Martin on September 6, 2012, 7:43 GMT

    RandyOZ, you jest surely? The series is over.

    edgie, spot on. This pyjama stuff was really forgettable, bar a few spells of top bowling and some sublime shots by Amla.

    Another TWO tests would have been fantastic and five should have been planned from the outset. Yes, it makes for a long tour but it's been brilliant cricket. And the interest and excitement it generated shows that Twenty20 isn't the only way to go.

  • shiva on September 6, 2012, 7:04 GMT

    SA did well in the final ODI and they tied the series. but still their batting looks vulnerable, they have to make some changes in their batting line up. smith should move down the order to no.4 or 5, elgar should open with amla and duminy must bat at no.3?(on kallis absence).

  • Stanton on September 6, 2012, 6:04 GMT

    Seriously, two of these ODI's could have been sacrificed for another test, and I am sure "that" test would not have been as one-sided as these ODI's were...

  • Dummy4 on September 6, 2012, 5:46 GMT

    Good on you Skip. We as South Africans are genuinely proud of you and your team.

  • Andrew on September 6, 2012, 4:29 GMT

    @RandyOZ - I have to hand it to you, you are persistent!

  • Randolph on September 6, 2012, 3:21 GMT

    They should go on to clean up the series now. Englannd are terrible to watch.

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