The Proteas will win the World Cup if AB de Villiers continues on his current batting course.
South Africa have turned things around. We asked for an improved all-round performance after their poor showing against India, and boy, have they delivered.
It was particularly pleasing to see De Villiers leading the way with an outstanding innings of 162 not out. The team needed to respond after that bad defeat to India, and De Villiers took it upon himself to make the match-winning contribution.
There is always a lot of talk about batsmen today and how they enjoy certain advantages compared to the greats of the past. I would agree that the contest today is weighted in the batsman’s favour.
But there can be no doubt about the quality of some players. These particular individuals may have thrived in any era. I was chatting to former South African batsman Barry Richards about this recently, and we agreed that De Villiers is a very special player. More than that, he’s a freak. He must have an incredible talent to adjust so quickly, as well as a lot of confidence in that talent.
The Proteas turned a corner in the game against the West Indies. They have the batting lineup to score totals between 280 and 300 against most teams. And when De Villiers comes off, they have the ability to score in excess of 350. You aren’t going to lose with that kind of firepower at your disposal.
The one minor concern I have about De Villiers is his batting position. I’ve long believed that the best batsman in the team must be in a position where he can face the most deliveries, and thus influence the outcome. I am yet to see an explanation for De Villiers coming in at No 5 instead of at No 4.
It seems to be working, and I wonder if it has something to do with attacking the opposition bowlers at the death. Lance Klusener was an influential batsman for South Africa at ODI level, and yet he preferred to come in later in the innings.
The tournament has reached the stage where a team like South Africa must settle on their best XI. Fitness permitting, they must back their best XI from hereon in.
I believe that there is space for both Quinton de Kock and Rilee Rossouw in that batting order. De Kock has struggled, but they should persist with him at the top of the order. I would prefer to see De Villiers coming in at No 4 and Rossouw at No 5. David Miller can drop to No 6, and JP Duminy can still do a job at No 7.
That’s a batting lineup that inspires confidence. What will also encourage the Proteas is that they have a special player in De Villiers who can take the game away from the opposition when he gets going.
I doubt that the Proteas will underestimate Pakistan this Saturday. They should finish the pool stages with five wins. Their only defeat should be the one suffered against India in the second game.
The Proteas are looking good at this stage, but so too are India. Australia and New Zealand both wobbled in their recent meeting in Auckland. Despite the pre-tournament predictions, India have been the most convincing and consistent of the major contenders. I feel they will only grow stronger in the coming weeks, with MS Dhoni coming into some batting form.
Graeme Pollock played 23 Tests for South Africa, scoring 2256 runs at an average (60.97) that remains second only to Don Bradman’s. He was voted South Africa’s Player of the 20th century in 1999, and inducted into the ICC Hall of Fame in 2009.
Due to a series of health problems that have impacted on his financial position, Pollock is now reaching out to fans in hope of some support. If you are able to contribute to his Trust in any way, please do not hesitate to call his agent Basil O’Hagan on 083 4124459 or make a deposit, however small, to the following Trust Fund.
Name of Account Holder: Rudolf Buys & Associates Trust
Name of Bank: Standard Bank
Account Number: 281 464 359
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