South Africa v England, 4th Test, Centurion, 5th day January 26, 2016

De Villiers hints at long-term captaincy

ESPNcricinfo staff

AB de Villiers has dropped another hint that he is willing to stay on as South Africa's long-term Test captain, after his new-look team completed an impressive 280-run victory in the fourth and final Test at Centurion.

De Villiers, who himself made a pair in the match and has averaged just 9.00 in his two Tests since taking over from Hashim Amla as captain in the aftermath of the second Test at Cape Town, praised the character shown by his players s they secured their first Test victory in ten matches since January 2015.

"The guys were very fired up for this Test match," de Villiers said during the post-match presentations. "It's been a while since we won a Test match so we are obviously very excited about that and we will enjoy the celebrations afterwards now."

South Africa's side featured five changes from the seven-wicket defeat in Johannesburg, in which they conceded an insurmountable 2-0 series deficit, and de Villiers singled out one of the new faces, debutant opener Stephen Cook, for particular praise, following his maiden century in the first innings. However, the star of the show was unequivocally Kagiso Rabada, whose match figures of 13 for 144 were the second-best in South Africa's Test history.

"We are very excited about some of the guys coming through and taking their opportunities with both hands," de Villiers said. "Obviously Kagiso had a fantastic Test match, it doesn't come around every day that you take 13 wickets in a Test so we are very proud of him, and obviously Temba [Bavuma] and Cooky have played their roles in this Test match, and Temba obviously in the whole series.

"It's a great team performance, coming back from 2-0 against a very solid England team, and we showed a lot of character and hopefully we can build on this now and in the future."

Asked about his own future in Test cricket, amid series-long speculation about his workload, de Villiers implied that he was ready to commit to the leadership, with South Africa's next Test engagement coming at home against New Zealand in August.

"Yeah, I've really enjoyed it," he said. "I'm keen to move forward and the team is in a really good space, with a few guys coming through and enjoying their cricket. It's a good place to be in, and it's a bright future for us.

"We've got a long way to go, it's a bit of a rebuilding phase, we've lost quite a few players in the last few years, but the guys who've come through have shown a lot of character and shown us that they can take the team forward. I think there's a bright future and we are looking forward to everything that's going to come our way, and all the challenges."

Rabada followed up his first-innings figures of 7 for 112 with 6 for 32 second time around, including a destructive final-morning spell of 4 for 4 in 21 balls to bundle England out before the drinks break, and was deservedly named Man of the Match.

"It was a bit up and down so the key was to hit the deck, bowl in a relatively good area and believe that you'd get your rewards," he said. "It's great to be in this environment, it's what I've always wanted to do, and it's great to play against a quality cricket team."

"To take seven wickets this morning in the time that we did probably wasn't part of my thinking in bed last night," de Villiers admitted. "We were prepared to go to 5.30pm today and guts it out. They have a few match-winners in their team so we were wary of that, it wasn't an impossible run-chase."

Alastair Cook, England's captain, conceded his side had been second-best throughout the match.

"It's been a disappointing five days, we haven't quite been on it, pretty much the whole five days," he said. "We've hung in there without ever being able to get on top of South Africa. Credit to them, they played well, but we weren't quite at the races.

"Trevor [Bayliss, the coach] just described it as a limp batting performance, which probably sums it up perfectly."

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Paul on January 29, 2016, 9:16 GMT

    Rahul, you forget the decisive role De Kock played in slaying a quick unbeaten century, demoralising the Poms and allowing us to reach a big first innings score. And as for AB being no Graeme Smith, thank goodness for that!!!!

  • sasikumar on January 27, 2016, 7:22 GMT

    Every body forgot about the performance of Quinton de Kock, I mean the quick fire in the first innings

  • Alex on January 27, 2016, 6:59 GMT

    He talk too much like sehwag used to do. he should not say things that affect his team preparation. May be he has too much thought in his brain. I really hope CSA give captaincy someone else and prolong ABD cricket life with SA longer. If he is captain , it will be disaster waiting at the end. He will be unceremoniously fired in future as his form dips. Its better not to give him captain. He do not have STABLE mind. Period.

  • Rahul on January 27, 2016, 6:03 GMT

    ABD is one of the best batsmen in the world no doubt but he aint no Graeme Smith Period. His big talk in the press about Englands pace bowlers and batsmen was all bravado and no substance. And it clearly played on his mind while batting. A batsmen of caliber doesnt score 2 golden ducks in a match unless his mind is cluttered. SAF should thank Rabada, Cook, Amla and Temba for turning in brilliant individual performances to win the test match. For a long term solution SAF definitely needs to look at Faf to lead the side. AB doesn't look like a leadership solution.

  • Chatty on January 26, 2016, 23:30 GMT

    Very disappointed in ABD. I am a SL fan and had huge respect for his talent. But his decision making ability is really poor. Dropping hints about his intention? Come on, is that how leaders act? Leaders are firm and decisive. What we hear is weak and indecisive. I have no doubt if SA lose a few matches, he will cut and run. SA need a real leader of men. I love the T20s and the IPL. But IPL means nothing when compared to international cricket. If AB drops int'l cricket for IPL, he will have very little respect from fans all over the world. He will be another Gayle.

  • Matthew on January 26, 2016, 21:06 GMT

    I hope AB stays on as captain - he will do a good job for SA and I would love to see him the next time SA come to play in England(2017 iirc).

  • Rohan on January 26, 2016, 19:11 GMT

    To all SA friend - where the hell is Rilee Rossouw? He looked incredibly promising during WC and before, his first record is also highly impressive then why is he not in the team?

  • vinay on January 26, 2016, 17:28 GMT

    with due respect to AB..he need to get his priorities right. As much as we love to see him in India and at the IPL, we would like to see him score a triple century and make SA formidable again.Rabada and Steyn bowling in tandem should be a sight

  • Alex on January 26, 2016, 16:16 GMT

    ABD will be average captain but he won't last long. Pressure will get to him. But he will bring new young talent. That i am 100% sure. Who ever follow him as captain going to reap the rewards of his hard work. SA avoided loss because of cook and won because of rabada's energy. I still think SA team has many groups inside.

  • David on January 26, 2016, 14:08 GMT

    Just a week ago it was all doom and gloom for South Africa! It is not very difficult to figure out that winning changes everything, which reminds me of a poem:

    How fickle are the minds of men, Attention changing on a whim, Forever searching for the end. They try so hard to learn the rules And to make some of their own. They plead and whine and agitate And keep asking if they've won, While all the while we all keep racing So damned fast around the cursed sun.

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