AB de Villiers should not have regained his role as Proteas ODI skipper earlier this season.
When De Villiers returned as captain for the Sri Lanka series, he disrupted the team’s momentum and affected its cohesion. It was the wrong time to take the leadership away from Faf du Plessis, so close to a major tournament.
The Proteas were at the top of their game, having whitewashed Australia 5-0 in the ODI series in South Africa and then won a Test series Down Under 2-1. Those two series had one thing in common: no De Villiers.
How can the absence of one of the world’s best players be good for the team? Well, it’s simple – confidence and momentum are everything in cricket. Just ask the underperforming Australia squad.
It’s impossible to build a team ethos and chemistry if there are major disruptions, and De Villiers was allowed to pick and choose which matches he wanted to play.
When his captaincy was questioned by the media after Sunday’s loss to India, De Villiers said: ‘I’m a good captain, I can take this team forward, I can win a World Cup. That’s what I believe and I love doing it.’
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CSA has clearly given De Villiers too much pull regarding his role in the team.
A good player doesn’t always make a good captain. And while De Villiers is an exquisite cricketer, he’s a terrible captain.
His tactical decisions seem premeditated, almost like Louis van Gaal’s Manchester United side – this is the plan, stick to it, regardless of how the match is panning out.
We saw this with the way he utilised Imran Tahir in the Champions Trophy.
Pakistan took full advantage of a spinning wicket to terrorise the Proteas’ batting lineup. De Villiers had first-hand experience of it, slicing a ball from Imad Wasim to lose his wicket for the first golden duck of his ODI career.
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De Villiers should have then opened the bowling with the best bowlers for the conditions. The No 1-ranked ODI spinner, Imran Tahir, and one of the game’s best short-delivery bowlers, Morne Morkel, could have put the opposition on the back foot and help defend the mediocre 219-run total.
Instead, De Villiers opened with Wayne Parnell, on a wicket that favoured bounce and spin, and he conceded 16 runs in his first two overs.
Kepler Wessels was spot on in his analysis on SuperSport after the Proteas’ defeat to India saying: ‘The whole captaincy has to be looked at; AB de Villiers’ whole situation has to be looked at.’
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CSA must be ruthless when dealing with De Villiers. It should not allow itself to be bullied by a player because of his status.
Appoint a captain who brings the best out of his players and has the necessary tactical acumen (Du Plessis) and allow De Villiers to focus on batting, which is his forte.