Champions Trophy 2013 May 27, 2013

Amla, Peterson ready to fill leadership vacuum


Robin Peterson and Hashim Amla have put their hands up to fill South Africa's leadership vacuum at the Champions Trophy. In the absence of Graeme Smith and Jacques Kallis, AB de Villiers has been left without two of his most important advisors, and the self-confessed uncertain leader will have to rely on other names in a largely inexperienced squad.

De Villiers is the most capped player in South Africa's squad and will shoulder tremendous responsibility in the competition. He will have to captain, keep wicket and be the senior-most batsman in a line-up that includes two players, Faf du Plessis and JP Duminy, who are making a return from injury.

Although that duo is part of South Africa's new leadership core - du Plessis is the Twenty20 captain and Duminy is the next most experienced member of the squad - they will doubtlessly have their own form to focus on. It will be up to Peterson and Amla to be de Villiers' consultants, and both have expressed a willingness to assist.

Peterson is South Africa's first-choice spinner, and his 11 years as an international cricketer will come in handy in pressure situations. "I always take a leadership role where I can and I'd like to continue to do that,' Peterson told ESPNcricinfo, before the squad left for a training camp in Amsterdam at the weekend. "But we've created an environment where everyone is a leader, and I think that's the secret to [our] success."

However, it is Amla's desire to contribute as a leader again that may seem surprising. After he stepped down as vice-captain in February, it seemed Amla had walked as far away from seniority as he could. Now he finds it drawing him back in and this time, because the team needs him, he is not likely to shy away from it. "If I find the need to add value in a certain way, then I will go ahead.

"We're in a good space. Most of us are pulling in the right direction. Jacques hasn't been around the one-day game for the last year or so, so maybe the team has had a taste of it. Graeme's experience and assistance to AB will be missed but we will conduct ourselves as we normally do and keep building the team."

With a unit still in transition, outgoing coach Gary Kirsten indicated that South Africa do not enter the competition under as much pressure as they usually do. But the players are still smarting from the manner in which they exited the 2011 World Cup and last year's World T20, and are desperate to prove they can win.

"Maybe the expectations of people [are] a bit less, I'm guessing," Amla said. "But that doesn't affect the team itself. Every tournament we've been to, we've been as best prepared as we can and there's no excuse … you can't put your finger on why we haven't won. Obviously, we want to win. We want to send Gary off with a smile and fond memories of the team. It will be great for him to have an expression of the value he has given to us. It's important for us to win."

Peterson, too, believes South Africa will not be forgiven too many more slip-ups by their fans, especially as Kirsten was thought to be the man who could change their fortunes. "There is no less pressure than going to any other world event," he said. "It's going to be very tough for us, especially because a lot of [the] guys [are] going to their first world event, but this is a different team from 2011. We have grown significantly since then. Gary has added a whole new dimension."

Careful following of processes is Kirsten's biggest legacy and Peterson believes the self-belief Kirsten has gifted the unit will change the way South Africa's Achilles' heel often operates. "People talk a lot about our middle order, but they are mentally tougher than people give them credit for," he said. "It will be great to see them out there doing what they are capable of and winning matches for us."

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • gaurawa on May 29, 2013, 12:59 GMT

    Hey everybody who wants to compare AB devillers with dhoni , hey go n do something else. You cant compare AB technique & skills, He is top class batsman, Dhoni is only a hitter. unfortunately no one ( including AB) understand AB batting capability & fielding skills. For me AB is the most talented & no.01 batman in the world. Even amla, clarke are not better than AB. Anytime AB can slow or fast according to the situation. We want him to bat in no.3 or 4 in both formats. If he is open the inning he will break all the batting records. Compare his techniques, stats n everything. SA has given Wicket keeping to AB n we lost to see world best fielders fielding skills, this is absolutely ridiculous. we want world best fielder back on the cricket field

  • Paul on May 29, 2013, 3:36 GMT

    Oh it is, duncanmoo. He was treated shabbily by the powers that be, had to look on while lesser players were selected above him, had no financial security as a player in South Africa and that forced him to move to Aus, where he is respected, selected or dropped on merit alone and is doing a fine job taking South Australia out of its long-inhabited cricketing doldrums.

  • Harjinder on May 29, 2013, 0:12 GMT

    OK ..GRANT KING> you wish ...but i want this ICC trophy in SOUTHAFRICA (HANDS ) Im an INDIAN ...but i watching...praying for SA since 1992....good luck

  • Andrew on May 28, 2013, 22:07 GMT

    Though I'm disapointed that Kallis won't be playing, I'm very excited to see Duminy make his return in the CT. With no Kallis in the setup, Duminy might be given a different role for the side depending on the match situation, of course.

  • Andrew on May 28, 2013, 22:02 GMT

    @Baseball-Sucks : Don't worry about us mate, our batting lineup is less likely to suffer a major collapse. I wonder how are SL batsmen going to survive good pace attacks like England and Australia. Yes, I know SL have had the better of Australia in recent times but Australia always bring on a formidable side in major tournaments and the conditions are more suitable to them than for Sri Lanka.

    Our bowling attack is good enough to disturb any side amd we have enough variety too. Irfan Pathan will need to be the spearhead of the attack and Bhuvaneshwar Kumar will be the bowler to watch out in this tournament.

  • Duncan on May 28, 2013, 20:16 GMT

    @ Shongololo Johan Botha took himself out of the picture and moved to Australia. Good for him if he went where the money is for him, SA's loss totally, but it is not a selection policy thing.

  • Dummy4 on May 28, 2013, 17:13 GMT

    @GRVJPR.. Dude How come you saying that India maintained No 1 consistently for last five years. Go and read the stats and come back buddy. and dont compare MSD's bat, keep against ABD's cuz abd batting is of perfection and timings not like dhonis. ABD's acrobatic skills cant match dhoni's so pls..

  • Sarah on May 28, 2013, 16:10 GMT

    @GRVJPR ; lol Dude, its you who use the IPL (T20) yardstick to measure up the form of batsmen like Sanga n Mahela. We don't literally give a rat .... about T20 or how our batsmen performed in the IPL. If your UV is so great how come he has been thrown outta team ? lol Do you know how vulnerable your batsmen are for short balls ? lol What you do think they r gonna face in English bouncy pitches ? You no.1 in ODI's due the misfortune suffered by Saffers against NZ. So don't be overconfident. Aye..... lol

  • GAURAV on May 28, 2013, 14:36 GMT

    @Baseball-Sucks You judje people forms by Slog cricket (T-20 cricket). I am speechless. And you saying India has no chance. The current no 1 ODI team, the current world cup champions have no chance. It must be something other than cricket that makes you say this. Because logic and form doesn't agree with you. I am completely SPEECHLESS!

  • GAURAV on May 28, 2013, 14:33 GMT

    @Baseball-Sucks I remember you saying same thing in 2011 world cup, that yuvraj is horribly out of form. He was man of the series and one of the greatest tournament winners of India right from his debut series which was champions trophy as well. About sehwag you said that he doesn't have technique even to hold the bat. Well he has more triple centuries then your favorite so called greats. As far as India is concerned same thing is being said from last 5 years yet they maintained their no 1 ODI team ranking consistently. It will be a huge upset if sri lanka or any other mediocre team advances to semis.

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