Although it was tough, AB de Villiers says South Africa’s transition since losing Jacques Kallis and Graeme Smith to retirement has been successful.
The Proteas are nearing their second year without the leadership of Smith, who retired at the start of 2014. Hashim Amla has taken over the Test captaincy and the team has done well to reclaim the No 1 Test ranking after briefly losing it to Australia last year.
Smith’s departure came after legendary all-rounder Jacques Kallis retired from Test cricket in late 2013 before quitting international cricket all together last July. Wicketkeeper Mark Boucher retired following a severe eye-injury in 2012.
‘It was a very difficult phase when Jacques, Graeme and Mark and to an extent even Shaun Pollock and Makhaya Ntini and some of the big names retired,’ De Villiers told the International Cricket Council in a video interview.
‘But especially Graeme now recently, because he started a certain culture that we are very proud of now and that we play for. But in saying that, when he retired there was a big change in the team, a lot of senior guys took over the side and we had to start something different again.’
De Villiers, together with Amla and T20 captain Faf du Plessis, had to take the team forward and tried to stay true to the culture that Smith created.
‘The way Graeme led the side was a whole lot different to what’s happening now,’ De Villiers said.
‘For a while we were hanging on to what Graeme used to do, but after a few months we realised we had to let go of certain things.’
While the Test team has remained settled and largely unchanged over the last few years, there has been less stability in the other formats.
With the tour to India coming up and followed by a visit from England at the end of the year, the Proteas will have a good idea of where they are by the time the T2o World Cup comes around early in 2016.
‘I think we’re doing a really job good,’ De Villiers said.
‘There’s a nice, fresh vibe and we’re confident about where we’d heading as a cricket side. That culture is still in place that Graeme created, but we’re confident about the way we’re doing things at the moment.’