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De Villiers 'ready' for Test captaincy

Firdose Moonda

May 15, 2014

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De Villiers: Chance to build on Kallis and Smith's legacy

AB de Villiers has declared himself "ready" to take over as South Africa's Test captain but admitted he would prefer to give up the wicket-keeping gloves if entrusted with the role. Having already captained in both the Twenty20 and ODI formats, neither of which he is currently behind the stumps for, de Villiers has realised the dangers of being overburdened and wants to avoid the same at Test level unless absolutely necessary.

"Preferably I wouldn't like to do the keeping job if I am captain," de Villiers said in an interview with ESPNcricinfo. "It will be very difficult to juggle all of that together. But if I have to do all of it... I have never shied away from a challenge. It will be a great challenge to be a captain and to do whatever they want me to do."

De Villiers is considered the front-runner for the job Graeme Smith vacated in March this year after more than a decade in charge of the national team. If de Villiers is given the job but asked to hand over the gloves, one of Thami Tsolekile or Quinton de Kock will take over behind the stumps. Tsolekile lost his national contract in February but is still considered the official reserve while de Kock, who keeps in ODIs and T20s and has played one Test, is thought of as a long-term successor much like de Villiers was earmarked as Smith's heir.


Graeme Smith, AB de Villiers and Mark Boucher walk off the field, New Zealand v South Africa, 3rd Test, Wellington, 5th day, March 27, 2012
AB de Villiers: "It's important for senior guys like myself, Hashim, Dale, JP to move forward and take that culture that Graeme and Jacques and Mark left behind." © Getty Images
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Although de Villiers had never captained at school, club or franchise level, he was handed the limited-overs captaincy in 2011, when Smith stepped down after the World Cup, and also the Test vice-captaincy. Despite a difficult start in the leadership position, which saw South Africa exit the 2013 Champions Trophy in the semi-finals and lose an ODI series in Sri Lanka 4-1, and handing over the T20 reins to his school friend Faf du Plessis, de Villiers has grown into the role. South Africa have won two of their last three ODI series and de Villiers regards himself as an improved tactician.

"I have led in the shorter version - it's been a great ride and I have learnt so much. I am certainly ready to take over the Test captaincy," de Villiers said. "I would love to do it. It's up to the people above me to decide who will be the best guy to do the job. Whoever gets it, I hope he will have full support from the team, from the staff and from the administrators. He will have my support if it's not me but if it is me I will give it my best shot and hope to do a good job."

The other main contender for the role is du Plessis, who has shown an aptitude for leadership although he does not have de Villiers' experience. JP Duminy is considered an outside chance given his status as a relatively senior player across all three formats.

The process for appointing the new captain will begin with South Africa's selectors recommending a candidate for the post after consulting, among others, head coach Russell Domingo. Cricket South Africa's board will then have to ratify that choice, which is expected to happen at its meeting on June 3.

The new captain's first assignment will be to lead the team on a two-Test tour of Sri Lanka in July before a one-off Test against Zimbabwe in August. Should South Africa achieve satisfactory results in those three matches, they will leapfrog Australia, who do not play Test cricket until October, to reclaim the top Test ranking.

While that may sound relatively uncomplicated, South Africa will have to do without the services of Smith and Jacques Kallis, who retired from Tests in December, leaving the side without the experience of a combined 283 Test caps. While the dearth of seasoned players is a concern for some in South Africa, de Villiers did not went to dwell on it too much.

"I see opportunity that comes with that. We've lost some big names but some new players will get the opportunity to become heroes in the country," he said. "It's important for senior guys like myself, Hashim (Amla), Dale (Steyn), JP to move forward and to take that culture that Graeme and Jacques and Mark (Boucher) left behind. We have to show them the way. I am looking forward to the challenge of taking the team forward."

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent

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© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by rashivkd on (May 17, 2014, 7:44 GMT)

@cricanm, That is simply because of he is doing only one job, captaining the side, in tests. Do you think MSD deserve a place as a batsman only in the test team? Never for me. But ABD will be in any team purely as a batsman. That is the difference. But, I admits, MSD is a great captain, a great thinker and more than that, he knows his limitations than anyone else. And he knows how to counter it. You can see a number of guys with the talent of MSD, but only MSD can be as successful as he is now, because he is a great thinker.

Posted by   on (May 16, 2014, 23:17 GMT)

@greatest game - I picked de kock purely for his batting because personally I feel he is the best opener SA has right now. And when u already have 6 batsman I would personally go for the best keeper as currently dekock's keeping is quite sloppy. So currently I was thinking have de kock as a batsman right now and wait for his keeping to improve at first class level. And AB is fantastic in the field so by picking the best keeper we will have his services on the field as well.

Posted by Greatest_Game on (May 16, 2014, 18:06 GMT)

@ dilly thinks "Our best option is to make faf captain he has the fight and brain for it."

Faf has not cemented a spot in the team, & his "fight" is our typical Saffa stubbornness. Like Smith he may struggle to overcome it. In contrast, when AB first captained he was a bit of a breeker. The Rock Star crashed & burned, but learned hard, & valuable lessons.

I was a big critic of AB's captaincy, but I think he's learned to balance his unorthodox instincts with Saffa conservatism, & now has the creative thinking to SMARTLY go for the kill!

Enough verkramp leadership. Hansie - rest his soul - had the killer instincts & brains to pull off jailbreaks & heists, & to win. We need some of that back. I think AB has it in him. Hansie was smarter, but AB is catching up.

AB is the natural choice: a superb batsman in rare form, the most international experience as player & skipper, & showing enough of that Hansie magic that we should not waste so rare an opportunity. If he fails, he's replaced

Posted by Greatest_Game on (May 16, 2014, 17:22 GMT)

@ Naman Gupta suggests a SA test team of "Quinton Dekock, Peterson ... Thami Tsolekile …"

de Kock AND Tsolekile? Why? As batsman only, de Kock may be ahead of his optimal curve, but as batsman/keeper he's Gilchrist V2.0, & the best option!

There's always been just 1 player ahead of Thami. Boucher was talented, but had to work relentlessly to make it, pit bull tenacity his greatest asset. Thami, a prodigious talent, broke records set by Kallis, played International Hockey, Football, & Cricket, & was exceptional at all. He chose cricket, made his 1st class debut at 19, captained SA's U19 WC team, & seemed destined! He waited, was picked, played 3 tests, was dropped, & left cricket for 5 years!

We'll never truly know if post-apartheid SA victimized & failed him, if mismanagement ruined him, or if Thami's rare talents simply declined, as some do. Each way his story is tragic.

Sadly, 10 years later, the brutal realities of international cricket seem poised to bypass him ... yet again.

Posted by Greatest_Game on (May 16, 2014, 14:33 GMT)

@ pick_at_the_seam, in the spirit cricket, offered his best wishes, saying "good luck to whoever get the job from us in Australia. I hope they can maintain the awesome intensity that has made our rivalry so entertaining. cricket talent wise AB as miles above his team. good luck mate."

Thanks for that @ pick_at_the_seam. I like that the rivalry ends with respect - not the petty whinging. Punter's comments at Perth in 2012 showed the biggest heart I've seen from any skipper/ex-skipper/legend.

AB is in a league of his own right now. With Hash in form they'll be brutal Aussie spankers for a good while ;) We need 5 test series to get full value from Aus/SA tours. The Ashes are nice, but really great cricket is a hell of a lot nicer!

I'd like a Northern Hemisphere vs Southern Hemisphere Test Cup every few years. Saffas, Aussies, Kiwis & Zims vs 'the rest." Endless possibilities.

Posted by pick_at_the_seam on (May 16, 2014, 11:17 GMT)

good luck to whoever get the job from us in Australia. I hope they can maintain the awesome intensity that has made our rivalry so entertaining. cricket talent wise AB as miles above his team. good luck mate.

Posted by   on (May 16, 2014, 8:40 GMT)

not sure about captain but future SA team Quinton Dekock, Peterson, Amla, ab devilliers, faf, duminy, Thami Tsolekile, philander, morkel, steyn and merchant de lange. have raw pace in delange, swing in steyn, accuracy in philander and bounce in morkel. All are class bowlers.U have 6 batsman with alma and ab in full flow and rest being promising talents. U also have ur best keeper as well and a deep batting order upto 8 with steyn and morkel also capable.

Posted by dillyk on (May 16, 2014, 7:41 GMT)

Our best option is to make faf captain he has the fight and brain for it, AB should just bat at 4 and be the vice captain In SA/Aus/Eng/NZ 1.petersen 2.elgar 3.amla 4.AB 5.faf 6.jp 7.de kock 8.philander 9.steyn 10.morkel 11.hendricks With elgar & jp providing good 5th bowler options.... we have swing left & right in steyn & hendriks, pace & bounce from morkel, and some accurate nibble from vern + we bat all the way to 8

In WI/Ind/Pak/Srl 1.petersen 2.elgar 3.amla 4.AB 5.faf 6.jp 7.de kock 8.philander 9.steyn 10.morkel 11.tahir 3spinning options for SC tracks

some good reserves Bats: rossouw, van zyl, bavuma, miller, ingram Seamers depth: viljoen, de lange, parnell, kleinveldt, mclaren, abbott workable spinners: peterson, peidt, von berg, harmer

Posted by   on (May 16, 2014, 7:28 GMT)

@z.majid wat ever position he bats not an issue with current Indian bowling and captaing the side and watching them behind the stumps is a great deal only msd can do that

Posted by Sunilsewcharan on (May 16, 2014, 6:09 GMT)

There is really no contest between Abd and Msd, stats and record don't lie Abd 19/100 and 35/50, Msd 6/100 and 29/50. So for those that think that Msd is so much greater should have a think again. If you want to go great Wicket keeper/batsman then look at Sanga. So this notion of Msd being the ultimate needs to be readdressed. Being ranked 5th in the test arena speaks for its self. i might b an Sa die hard fan but i have good reason.

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