South Africa cricket May 28, 2014

Amla or de Villiers for SA captaincy?

Two former South Africa convener of selectors have their say on who should be the team's next captain

South African need a leader who can unite the team as it heads towards its biggest transition in more than a decade, according to two former conveners of selectors.

If Mike Procter, who headed the committee from 2008 to 2010, was still in charge, AB de Villiers would get the job. But if it was up to Rushdie Magiet, who was at the helm from 1999 to 2002, Hashim Amla would be the man. What both men agree on, though, is that Faf du Plessis has faded from contention ahead of next week's announcement.

"AB is such a good team guy and people look up to him. If you are the captain, you need to be able to lead from the front and he will do that," Procter told ESPNcricinfo.

But Magiet had a different opinion. "Apart from a very sound knowledge of the game, Hashim is very well liked and he will bring the team together which is what they need at this time," he countered.

Neither Procter nor Magiet have overseen a new captain during their tenures because they were both in office during Smith's reign. However, both men recognise that Smith's retirement, coupled with the exit of men who formed the core of his squad in Mark Boucher andJacques Kallis, means that South African cricket is set for a change in ideology regarding the selection of the next captain. De Villiers' brand is likely to be brave and creative, while Amla's is more measured and polished.

Magiet believes the latter is what South Africa will need to overcome the challenges they will face in the near future. Wresting back the No.1 Test ranking from Australia by taking on the only team they have lost to away from home in the last eight years, Sri Lanka, is the first of those. Maintaining their ruthlessness in a year where the only fixtures are against West Indies and Bangladesh in order to prepare for an incoming tour from England next season, is the other.

"AB will probably also make a good captain, but I would keep him behind the stumps. Character would be the main reason I would go with Hashim," Magiet said.

Procter, though, is not convinced by the personality of Amla, who only made himself available for consideration as the next Test captain recently after months of shying away from leadership. "It is surprising that Hashim changed his mind because he didn't want the job initially. Captaincy is either something you really want or something you don't want," Procter said.

For most of his career, Amla had made it clear he felt the latter. He stepped down as captain of his franchise, the Dolphins, after a season and gave up the vice-captaincy of South Africa's limited-overs sides last year. Amla credited his change of heart to feeling a responsibility to "add value," at a time of need, now that Kallis and Smith are gone. But sources close to CSA have indicated Amla was persuaded to put his name in the hat, particularly as pressure mounts to pick a captain of colour.

Magiet said it did not matter why Amla had made a U-turn, simply because people should be allowed to change their minds. "I don't know what happened or why Hashim changed his mind but I don't think that's a problem. If he is available, I would give him the job," Magiet said. "And the recent reports have said Hashim wants to do it which I think is a good thing."

Equally keen on the role is de Villiers who in an interview with ESPNcricinfo, declared himself "ready" to take over and even indicated that he would be willing to give up the wicket-keeping job if appointed. Procter was heartened by those comments because he thinks that is the best way for de Villiers to lead without being overburdened.

"If AB is captain, he should not keep wicket," " Procter said. "His fielding is superb and he seems to enjoy fielding more. If he is in the field, he will also be able to manage bowlers better."

De Villiers has already handed over the gloves in both Twenty20s and ODIs to concentrate on batting and leading in the fifty-over game. Although de Villiers no longer captains in the shortest format, which is du Plessis' domain, Procter believes if he takes over in the Test arena, he should also be given back the T20 captaincy so that South Africa have some consistency.

"AB should captain in all formats. There is no need to split responsibility," he said. "He is a special player and arguably the best batsmen in the world in all formats. What really makes a good captain is experience so that's what AB needs. He will learn, just like Graeme Smith did."

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Nigel on May 31, 2014, 6:45 GMT

    Why would AB go up the order when Amla is at 3 and Kallis at 4? Unless you are suggesting he should open? By that logic Lara should have opened for WI. A more valis comparison would be with Michael Clarke when Australia were battling at 3 and 4.

    There is little doubt that AB will slot in at 4 when he hopefully gives up the gloves.

  • ZCF on May 30, 2014, 5:42 GMT

    What on earth is so brave about AB when he couldn't cut it up the order, dropped down, and has been too afraid to go back up despite a spate of retirements or suspect form from many above him? Many players demand more responsibility and to go up the order in times of need. AB has simply refused to do that. Why give up the gloves if you get captaincy when you should've done that long ago without it? Amla on the other hand batted up the order despite form which got him dropped early in his career. When the situation called for it he opened in ODIs without hesitation, and went on to do so in T20s as well and proved wrong a number of critics calling for him to be dropped. Now the team needs leadership and he's put his hand up. So people shoudnt be surprised at Amla putting his name in contention at such times. It's in his nature. Unlike AB whose claim to best batsman is at lowly #5, where even Matthews(young cpt+allrounder)&SteveSmith are world beaters. Hashim Amla for captain? Yes please!

  • Wesley on May 29, 2014, 12:01 GMT

    I still hope its Faf du Plessis, I think he has the temperament and will get better as a player and captain, he has that dogged determination and seems a bit of a hard nosed character.

  • Greg on May 29, 2014, 11:43 GMT

    amla is a better statistician IMO and based on that will make the best real-time decisions as the scenarios change within the game. i.e. which bowler; batsmen combo; fieldng placement decisions and why at that particular time etc.

  • Khehla on May 29, 2014, 11:01 GMT

    It is a huge oversight by the selectors not to consider the man who is most comfortable with the captaincy. Faf is easily the best candidate although he is still rather new in the international scene. Australia still use George Bailey as their captain even though he is less experienced internationally. That said, since Faf is not considered then AB should have the gig. Amla has always been a reluctant leader, and although he has a calm demeanor in times when an inspiring speech or a tongue-lashing is required he night not be up for it.

  • Dummy4 on May 29, 2014, 10:56 GMT

    Neither have the mongrel of a Smith. Both resemble Alistair Cook rather than Michael Clarke.

    Both are so NB to the team that I wonder if the need the extra responsibility. Neither Lara nor Tendulkar make good captains, for eg. Your captain shouldn't be the best player in the team.

    It's a pity Faf is out of the running. He'd be my choice. Give the two on the table though, I'd pick AB and bring in De Kock to keep, but this is South Africa... there must be HUGE pressure to pick a non-white skipper

  • Android on May 29, 2014, 10:21 GMT

    I like the idea of amla as captain but ab is just exceptional and has to be used as captain coz he has this tendacy to lead from the front ....he will hold catches and thus pass it around and he will score game changing runs and thus making others catch 11 for srilanka and zim will be alviro p.dean elger..hash amla..ab devillers(c) ..faf duminy...quentin dekock(wk) ....vernon phi....d.steyn....morne morkel(final run).....imran tahir reserve(kyle abbots,di lange...van zyle

  • Dummy4 on May 29, 2014, 9:46 GMT

    This is going to be one of the toughest decision that the selection panel has to make. I love both AB and # and it would be difficult for me to say who the obvious choice is. I think it will all depend on where CSA wants the Proteas to go, and what kind of cricket they need them to play. As for # changing his mind about the captaincy, I myself can relate because I also declined in many cases to be involved in a project here at work because I felt the team leading were capable and my input would not make any difference. After they were gone I felt I needed to step up and take on the role, and a plus was that now I could implement my own views as I see fit without any complications. Anyway whether # was persuaded or decided by himself it was his decision in the end. I'm sure he though about it. But like I said, its going to be a hard one for the selectors!

  • Mark on May 29, 2014, 5:34 GMT

    If, as it is claimed, Amla was persuaded to run for captain, would it be the best choice to appoint him as such. I agree, you need to want the job and not be persuaded to run for it. As he has demonstrated in the past, captaincy is not his cup of tea. After a year, he may again backtrack and give up the captaincy. Amla is one of the world's best batsman and should be allowed to focus on making runs. AB has proved he can perform as a batsman under the captaincy, although to me he is not the ideal captain, he is better than the other choices. His brand of cricket also may be what is needed for the test team. I do disagree with Proctor though on the captaincy of the T20 side...Faf should retain that spot. Tactically I would put Faf before AB, but Faf is not an automatic selection for the test side, so this discounts him.

  • Harjinder on May 29, 2014, 0:41 GMT

    AB is the best choice if FAF is not consider ...Amla should play his positive as a batsman .He is a great player but he could not handle the side under his own claw ....good luck RSA .....!

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