Champions Trophy 2013 June 2, 2013

De Villiers wants fitting finish for Kirsten

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Twice during the last ICC tournament in Sri Lanka, AB de Villiers evoked the most taboo word in the South Africa cricket lexicon, unprovoked. Perhaps in an attempt to redefine the word, or maybe feeling that acceptance of it would bring progress, he spoke of previous South African teams having "choked" at the pre-tournament press conference in Colombo. He was keen to impress then that the team that had arrived at the World Twenty20 had made a clear break from that past. Funnily enough, three weeks later, he was using that same word to describe South Africa's loss to Pakistan.

In London, de Villiers did not embrace the tag quite as zealously, but that hardly means South Africa are paying little heed to the mental side of their game. As in last year's English summer, when South Africa captured the Test mace, they have been working with explorer Mike Horn, who, having also worked with the India team prior to their 2011 World Cup triumph, is quickly gaining a reputation as the world's preeminent cricket whisperer.

Before they arrived in England, South Africa had spent five days in Amsterdam, where they played Netherlands in an ODI as part of their preparation. "When we arrived there, the weather was quite bad and we were very worried about the preparation we were going to get in," de Villers said. "But it actually turned out to be a great week for us. We had a nice run in with Mike Horn, a very good fitness day and basically saw the whole of Amsterdam on bicycle, rowing and on foot. It was a great experience, and we learned a lot from him."

For the first time in years, however, South Africa have arrived at a major tournament with a side that may not, on paper, be one of the tournament frontrunners. A pace attack featuring Dale Steyn, Morne Morkel and Lonwabo Tsotsobe looks as menacing as any in the country, but without Graeme Smith and Jacques Kallis in the squad, the top order appears to lack solidity. But perhaps, free of the mental baggage of previous campaigns, the fresh faces who have replaced the old hands can provide the antidote for South Africa's big-tournament ailment.

"Graeme and Jacques will be missed experience wise," de Villiers said. "They've played for a long time. But I like to look at things in a positive way. There is a lot of energy coming in a guy like David Miller. We saw him in many games in the IPL, and he brings a lot of confidence to the team. To have an added number six or seven that can win a game from anywhere is great."

England's early-summer pitches may ply South Africa's fast bowlers with helpful wickets, but the attack once again looks light on spin, with left-armers Robin Peterson and Aaron Phangiso providing the slow-bowling options. De Villiers did not believe his side's spin bowling to be a weakness, and given Peterson's agreeable record in England, where he averages 21.71 in five matches, perhaps his faith is not misguided.

"I believe Robin is a very good spin bowler. He's been around a long time. He's actually surprised a lot of people in the last few years with the amount of wickets he's taken. He's a wicket taker for us, so that always makes him a dangerous bowler. It's just a matter of me finding the right time for the spinners to have the biggest impact on the game."

The Champions Trophy will be coach Gary Kirsten's last assignment in charge. He had scripted the side's rise to the top of the Test rankings. In addition to also having won the World Cup with India, de Villiers said he deserved nothing less than a triumphant finish with the team.

"It would be nice to give him a good farewell. He's been a great coach to us. We've learned a hell of a lot from him in the few years that he's been our coach. He's more like a mentor on the team. I find it funny calling him coach because no one calls him coach. He's almost like one of our friends and a mentor kind of guy that's really managed the team very, very well."

South Africa play Pakistan in a warm-up match at the Oval on Monday, and will begin their tournament against India on Thursday.

Andrew Fidel Fernando is ESPNcricinfo's Sri Lanka correspondent. He tweets here

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • on June 2, 2013, 20:07 GMT

    RSA cricket forever! All the best buddy.But I definately will miss De Kcock ,Kallis & Morris. but for me triumph card for RSA will be Amla and my prediction, this time he will change every stats and will give a rare taste of the trophy to RSA cricket.

  • M.Khan95 on June 4, 2013, 9:18 GMT

    couldnt agree with @Wessels Van Vuuren more..

  • on June 4, 2013, 7:01 GMT

    Not happening, stop dreaming. If yesterday's warm-up is anything to go by, Kirsten doesn't deserve 'the credit' if we miraculously win. Team looked uncoached. Horrible slow, negative batting and then suddenly a brainless throwing away of their wickets, pathetic short, wide and erratic bowling, countless no-balls and wides, drop catches, miss fields etc. etc. I don't know what they've been doing for the last few weeks, but practice it wasn't.

  • cric4world on June 4, 2013, 5:50 GMT

    @BDforever. look who is talking. after 15 years of test cricket u produce one worth mentioning allarounder and u already claiming that pakistan's bowling attack isnt good enough?i wonder how u gona talk if u get just one more good player. lol. u think the bowling attack is not good enough that restricted SA to 200 when all their batsmen got a chance to bat (mclaren came in at 9 lol) and pakistan did it without using their prime bowlers like ajmal and irfan. and when u talk abt giving practice look at the score card pakistan's best batsman was retired out, all new batsmen got a chance to bat. when u have 200 runs to play within u can only give practice to as many batsmen.b fair when u comment on cricket jealousy isnt always healthy lol. and plus lets wait till ur SHAKIB UL HASAN gets BD to some respectable position in a global tournament then u can comment about pakistan. wat u say? :) we know we have a weak batting, but since 2007 we made semis of all global cups.wat does it tell u?

  • Guduji71 on June 3, 2013, 23:28 GMT

    Pakistan did well in this practice match. They gave run to all their batsmen except Shoab Malik. Pakistani pace attack was very impressive. I think Asad Ali is a very good find he is a very clever one day bowler, he should play every match. Wahab is very fast may be fastest of all Pakisatnis, he is starting to get his rythem, the plus is that he is very intelligent lower order batsman. I would say Pakistan has the best fast bowling attack in the world. They have both left and right arm fast bowling variety, the bowlers have good pace and swing ability. We have M.Irfan who can generate bounce from any dead wicket. Gul is not even playing this tournamant. Pakitan has many options in bowling department. The worry is Pakistan's batting. They need matue skilled batsmen.

  • on June 3, 2013, 17:26 GMT

    too bad that the guy who was about to change every stats and give a rare taste of the trophy to RSA cricket lasted only 2 balls ...

  • SASANK360 on June 3, 2013, 17:19 GMT

    Good win by Pakistan. I feel both teams had good practice. But Pakistan's bowling as always was brilliant. SA on the other hand were not quite into this game. Probably they were assessing their fitness and other aspects. As an Indian I appreciate the bowling of Pakistan. Coming to their batting they need some mental conditioning to avoid panic and collapses. Anyway good luck Pakistan.

  • gibbs.175 on June 3, 2013, 17:00 GMT

    flop batting...leadership...... .SA should decide...To whom be used as a hitter.....Farhaan.....or Du plesis.....or at no. 3 slop should be taken by AB ...or Du plesis .....

  • ZCFOutkast on June 3, 2013, 16:56 GMT

    @gordinho and other suspicious & worrying preferences among fellow posters, Tsotsobe is South Africa's best ODI bowler. If Rory must come in for anyone, it will be for Steyn or Morkel!!

    Why was/is it always Ntini, Tsotsobe all the time. No wonder Ntini said he was never given the respect due to him, and he always felt like whenever a new seamer was brought into the side, it was to replace him even though he was by far and away our best for the majority of his career.

    Despite the fact that Tsotsobe is our most in form bowler, somehow you manage to predict his demise. What makes the other suspects immune to the same conclusions I wonder! Afterall, it's not like they have done anything notable. Like it or not, they are very much inferior to Tsotsobe in this format, and we've seen nothing that suggests that fact will change at any point in the foreseeable future.

  • on June 3, 2013, 16:54 GMT

    Excellent , i mean another good prospect from pak pace factory i,e this Asaad Ali ,can any tell me at what pace this lad bowl at .ckt. is all about these pacers otherwise this game is dull but when pace bowlers are at full throttle it is the best sight in ckt. ,thanks and regards .""" Cheeers from j & k""".

  • on June 2, 2013, 20:07 GMT

    RSA cricket forever! All the best buddy.But I definately will miss De Kcock ,Kallis & Morris. but for me triumph card for RSA will be Amla and my prediction, this time he will change every stats and will give a rare taste of the trophy to RSA cricket.

  • M.Khan95 on June 4, 2013, 9:18 GMT

    couldnt agree with @Wessels Van Vuuren more..

  • on June 4, 2013, 7:01 GMT

    Not happening, stop dreaming. If yesterday's warm-up is anything to go by, Kirsten doesn't deserve 'the credit' if we miraculously win. Team looked uncoached. Horrible slow, negative batting and then suddenly a brainless throwing away of their wickets, pathetic short, wide and erratic bowling, countless no-balls and wides, drop catches, miss fields etc. etc. I don't know what they've been doing for the last few weeks, but practice it wasn't.

  • cric4world on June 4, 2013, 5:50 GMT

    @BDforever. look who is talking. after 15 years of test cricket u produce one worth mentioning allarounder and u already claiming that pakistan's bowling attack isnt good enough?i wonder how u gona talk if u get just one more good player. lol. u think the bowling attack is not good enough that restricted SA to 200 when all their batsmen got a chance to bat (mclaren came in at 9 lol) and pakistan did it without using their prime bowlers like ajmal and irfan. and when u talk abt giving practice look at the score card pakistan's best batsman was retired out, all new batsmen got a chance to bat. when u have 200 runs to play within u can only give practice to as many batsmen.b fair when u comment on cricket jealousy isnt always healthy lol. and plus lets wait till ur SHAKIB UL HASAN gets BD to some respectable position in a global tournament then u can comment about pakistan. wat u say? :) we know we have a weak batting, but since 2007 we made semis of all global cups.wat does it tell u?

  • Guduji71 on June 3, 2013, 23:28 GMT

    Pakistan did well in this practice match. They gave run to all their batsmen except Shoab Malik. Pakistani pace attack was very impressive. I think Asad Ali is a very good find he is a very clever one day bowler, he should play every match. Wahab is very fast may be fastest of all Pakisatnis, he is starting to get his rythem, the plus is that he is very intelligent lower order batsman. I would say Pakistan has the best fast bowling attack in the world. They have both left and right arm fast bowling variety, the bowlers have good pace and swing ability. We have M.Irfan who can generate bounce from any dead wicket. Gul is not even playing this tournamant. Pakitan has many options in bowling department. The worry is Pakistan's batting. They need matue skilled batsmen.

  • on June 3, 2013, 17:26 GMT

    too bad that the guy who was about to change every stats and give a rare taste of the trophy to RSA cricket lasted only 2 balls ...

  • SASANK360 on June 3, 2013, 17:19 GMT

    Good win by Pakistan. I feel both teams had good practice. But Pakistan's bowling as always was brilliant. SA on the other hand were not quite into this game. Probably they were assessing their fitness and other aspects. As an Indian I appreciate the bowling of Pakistan. Coming to their batting they need some mental conditioning to avoid panic and collapses. Anyway good luck Pakistan.

  • gibbs.175 on June 3, 2013, 17:00 GMT

    flop batting...leadership...... .SA should decide...To whom be used as a hitter.....Farhaan.....or Du plesis.....or at no. 3 slop should be taken by AB ...or Du plesis .....

  • ZCFOutkast on June 3, 2013, 16:56 GMT

    @gordinho and other suspicious & worrying preferences among fellow posters, Tsotsobe is South Africa's best ODI bowler. If Rory must come in for anyone, it will be for Steyn or Morkel!!

    Why was/is it always Ntini, Tsotsobe all the time. No wonder Ntini said he was never given the respect due to him, and he always felt like whenever a new seamer was brought into the side, it was to replace him even though he was by far and away our best for the majority of his career.

    Despite the fact that Tsotsobe is our most in form bowler, somehow you manage to predict his demise. What makes the other suspects immune to the same conclusions I wonder! Afterall, it's not like they have done anything notable. Like it or not, they are very much inferior to Tsotsobe in this format, and we've seen nothing that suggests that fact will change at any point in the foreseeable future.

  • on June 3, 2013, 16:54 GMT

    Excellent , i mean another good prospect from pak pace factory i,e this Asaad Ali ,can any tell me at what pace this lad bowl at .ckt. is all about these pacers otherwise this game is dull but when pace bowlers are at full throttle it is the best sight in ckt. ,thanks and regards .""" Cheeers from j & k""".

  • on June 3, 2013, 16:40 GMT

    though its just a practice match winning or loosing does not matter much in here. BUt its difficult game. in a sense you can bat as many batsmen as you have in squad and bowl as many as you have in squad. SA gave good practice to all there batsmen. i think may be 2 will not feature in 1st playing 11. peterson came at no 10 who normally comes at 8.

    though nothing should be taken seriously but good real match practice is what players get.

    I would say pakistan should have bowled in irfan and ajmal for ehsan and rehman. both ajmal and irfan have last played on 23rd may 1st odi vs ireland.

    and i dont think ehsan / rehman will feature in playing 11 unless there is any injury.

    there is already a difficult decision waiting who to choose amonth irfan/asad/wahab.

  • on June 3, 2013, 16:20 GMT

    @bdforeverr so u want to say that bd have the best bowling line up in the world go and check the rankings again we have 2 bowlers in the top ten and and no 1 all-rounder in odi's hafeez and plz raise your standard of cricket then tell us about what to do :-P

  • M.Khan95 on June 3, 2013, 15:28 GMT

    pakistan DID send all their bowlers for practice, didnt you see irfan and ajmal warming the bench only? that shows how important misbah thinks practice is. we are weak at chasing and thats what we are going to do tpday, achieve that in itself would be a confidence booster.

  • M.Khan95 on June 3, 2013, 15:17 GMT

    did i just read , pakistan will get all out for 90? hahahahahhaha

  • BDforeverr on June 3, 2013, 15:09 GMT

    India and Pakistan should learn from Sri Lanka. See how SL has sent all their batsmen to have good practice against India. Where as India and Pakistan are trying to win a practice match. So what is the use of practice match? Practice match is meant to have practice for all the players in the line up. Winning is secondary! Even if SA loose this is like knowing the weakness they have. on these lines I will say SA has won using their resources.

    Cricinfo pls publish

  • Energetic. on June 3, 2013, 14:55 GMT

    Pakistan are an ordinary team and the oldest. Warm-ups do not prove anything. Out of the 3 Asian teams watch how Pakistan comes last and Sri Lanka reach at least the final yet again.

  • gordinho on June 3, 2013, 14:47 GMT

    Best starting 11 for this tournament is: 1.Petersen; 2.Amla; 3.DuPlessis; 4. DeVilliers; 5.Duminy; 6.Miller; 7.McLaren; 8.Peterson; 9.Steyn; 10.Morkel;11.Tsotsobe. This means Ingram, Behardien, Phangiso and Kleinveldt are left out. I've gone for Miller and McLaren due to current form and being succesful in English conditions during their stints on the county circuit. Duminy gives a 2nd spin option so needs to be included. Kleinveldt could come in for Tsotsobe if he doesnt perform and likewise Ingram for Petersen with Faf then opening.

  • SaadRocx on June 3, 2013, 14:27 GMT

    @BDforever,i agree with you on pak lacking a genuine allrounder (though we have Hafeez) but pak,s bowling is pretty decent,i actually rate it 4th best in the world atm...after SA,ENG,AUS but batting is only as good as Irelands...:/still pak win decent no. of matches wid their bowling,while fielding is against them too...

  • SaadRocx on June 3, 2013, 14:13 GMT

    its really eye-catching :))) all wickets taken by pace :o that too against SA.woah,good going pak,but dont get carried away,league matches will be much more tough than that...batting a big question mark.!!!!!

  • LALITHKURUWITA on June 3, 2013, 14:06 GMT

    PAK is going really well. SA will pack up home after 2 games in CT.

  • on June 3, 2013, 13:46 GMT

    What are Abdul Rehman and Shoaib Malik doing inthe Pakistan Team ? Both cannot bowl . Shoaib Malik cannot bat either .

  • KaptaanCricket on June 3, 2013, 13:38 GMT

    @Rock.Rockyin:-Mate,Pakistan's batting will bat on a flat deck like a green-top perth wicket. I am a Pakistani,though.

  • on June 3, 2013, 13:30 GMT

    Though these are practice matches but these seems more difficult as you may bowl more bowlers and may bat more batsman. just like SA did, in real game you would not be able to bring in Peterson at no 11. Same with bowling .

    Good bowling practice for pak bowlers. junaid asad and wahab were good. . in playing 11 i think there is a difficult decision waiting for team managment. which 2 of asad/wahab/irfan. asad's bowling is good but wahab has some batting skills which will prove vital in CT.

    1 thing i fail to understand is teams should give chance to 1st choice playing 11. rest i understand but what was ehsan & rehman doing in todays game. you will surely not select them in playing 11. so i think more practice should have been given to ajmal & irfan as they will be preffered in 11.

  • TheBigBoodha on June 3, 2013, 13:17 GMT

    Sadly, 200 will be enough to beat PAK.

  • LALITHKURUWITA on June 3, 2013, 13:08 GMT

    Beware of Black Caps. They will be the real threat in this tournament.

  • LALITHKURUWITA on June 3, 2013, 13:02 GMT

    I think all 15 SA players will have to bat to complete 50 overs.

  • BDforeverr on June 3, 2013, 12:57 GMT

    Pakistan doesnt have a good bowling line up. I wonder when Pakistan can produce a great allrounder like Shakib Al Hassan No 1 ranked presently. With out good bowling line up and no good allrounder I think Pak will exit out in league stages itself.

  • SaadRocx on June 3, 2013, 11:45 GMT

    choking skies are over southafrica,ready to drench them wet under their rain lol.

  • black_bird on June 3, 2013, 11:38 GMT

    lol, and they said, sa have a good chance to win the trophy. remember it, it is an international tournament. it is enough to knockout sa.best of luck india.

  • on June 3, 2013, 11:10 GMT

    lol Pakistan lost to u guys in South Africa where dere's more bounce, i admit our batting line aint that good but we can chase around 250 ! and from the looks of the practise match u guys should also learn how to play real pace and spin outside of South Africa ! never once u guys have made any big wins away from South Africa in a one day tournament ! and yes u'll choke again hahahha

  • BDforeverr on June 3, 2013, 11:00 GMT

    Chasing SA score Pak will tumble down for 90 All out!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Go SA GO!!

  • rock.rockyin on June 3, 2013, 10:58 GMT

    I really admire Pak team. After many off filed incidents over past 5 years or so. U guys pulled back very decently. Pak strength always has been Pace bowling and u do it with every new guy who comes into team which is simply great. Can I have a fair analysis from any pak fan.. how good u guys can fare as a batting team in wet conditions or on green top in this tournament.. For Indian team I am not really sure what is in store if it is wet condition and green top. I am only trying to know Pak batting strength.....

  • AnanthKumarM on June 3, 2013, 10:43 GMT

    Will DRS be used in the Champions Trophy?

  • xylofon on June 3, 2013, 9:19 GMT

    Very very strange matchup to play the team in training that you a few days later meet in the first match of the tournament. Ive never seen that in any other sport. Either way, a good chance for Pakistan to show they can play the pace attack which was one of the two biggest reasons why they lost the series to SA earlier this year - the other one being the limp foot batting.

    I hope SA pace the hell out of Pakistan as Pak need to learn how to handle it.

  • RT_Screen on June 3, 2013, 8:44 GMT

    I am calling it that SA is going to be the ICC champions 2013. GK has done it for India and he is going to do it for SA before he exits

  • on June 3, 2013, 8:34 GMT

    all the best ab......my favourite team southafrca after india...because of gary

  • realfan on June 3, 2013, 7:41 GMT

    i think RSA is the first favorite here.....i would like to see them win, please dont choke....

  • on June 3, 2013, 6:51 GMT

    O yes......AB .This time u will do it...

  • sachin_vvsfan on June 3, 2013, 6:29 GMT

    My second favorite team after INDIA. I won't be saddened if SA makes it but IND cant make it. SA looks more balanced team and probably this is the right time they lift the cup that they missed so many times.

  • Nuxxy on June 3, 2013, 5:27 GMT

    I just hope they are willing to try things. Like if Alviro doesn't score, try opening with Faf.

  • rsnCricketCrazy on June 3, 2013, 2:12 GMT

    Best of luck to ABD and his team.Go for the GLORY. My playing XI - Amla,Petersen,Ingram,ABD,Duminy,Faf,Miller/Farhaan,Robbie,Steyn,Morne,Tsotsobe

  • on June 2, 2013, 19:21 GMT

    Both teams are really good Pakistan team need some good innings from there batsmen and South Africa will come out good this time with young talent. Pakistan have made a few mistakes in selection but now they have come out good. Kamran Akmal and Hafeez need to play well. Misbah and Asad Shafiq need to play a bit quick and try to post big total.

  • RSA_chokers on June 2, 2013, 18:20 GMT

    End the CT as it was started on 1998.....

  • Surajdon9 on June 2, 2013, 18:03 GMT

    All the best AB.You need to keep right balance .Amla, Alviro,Ingram,AB, Duminy, Faf, Miller, Robbie, Steyn, Morne, Tsotsobe..

  • Surajdon9 on June 2, 2013, 18:03 GMT

    All the best AB.You need to keep right balance .Amla, Alviro,Ingram,AB, Duminy, Faf, Miller, Robbie, Steyn, Morne, Tsotsobe..

  • RSA_chokers on June 2, 2013, 18:20 GMT

    End the CT as it was started on 1998.....

  • on June 2, 2013, 19:21 GMT

    Both teams are really good Pakistan team need some good innings from there batsmen and South Africa will come out good this time with young talent. Pakistan have made a few mistakes in selection but now they have come out good. Kamran Akmal and Hafeez need to play well. Misbah and Asad Shafiq need to play a bit quick and try to post big total.

  • rsnCricketCrazy on June 3, 2013, 2:12 GMT

    Best of luck to ABD and his team.Go for the GLORY. My playing XI - Amla,Petersen,Ingram,ABD,Duminy,Faf,Miller/Farhaan,Robbie,Steyn,Morne,Tsotsobe

  • Nuxxy on June 3, 2013, 5:27 GMT

    I just hope they are willing to try things. Like if Alviro doesn't score, try opening with Faf.

  • sachin_vvsfan on June 3, 2013, 6:29 GMT

    My second favorite team after INDIA. I won't be saddened if SA makes it but IND cant make it. SA looks more balanced team and probably this is the right time they lift the cup that they missed so many times.

  • on June 3, 2013, 6:51 GMT

    O yes......AB .This time u will do it...

  • realfan on June 3, 2013, 7:41 GMT

    i think RSA is the first favorite here.....i would like to see them win, please dont choke....

  • on June 3, 2013, 8:34 GMT

    all the best ab......my favourite team southafrca after india...because of gary

  • RT_Screen on June 3, 2013, 8:44 GMT

    I am calling it that SA is going to be the ICC champions 2013. GK has done it for India and he is going to do it for SA before he exits