Former Proteas batsman Daryll Cullinan wants to see AB de Villiers bat at No 3 and says if JP Duminy doesn’t score runs in the next two Tests his ‘career is over’.
Cullinan, in an interview with the Times of India, also said the South African batsmen needed to get over their fear of spin.
‘There are a lot of things on their minds,’ Cullinan said. ‘They look to be in fear of getting out. They have to overcome that fear and defend a lot better. They have to rotate the strike. [Ravichandran] Ashwin is a good bowler but he is not [Anil] Kumble. I think they perhaps read too much into spin, read too much into pitches. They have to be lot more confident in terms of their defence.
‘The ability to get on top of the spinners will depend a lot on the experience of [Hashim] Amla and [Faf] Du Plesis. They have to support AB [De Villiers]. They desperately need to get some runs. If that starts to happen, everything will fall into place. The batting line-up upfront is inexperienced and that’s why they need to get their batting order right,’ he said.
It is here where Cullinan believes De Villiers should front up and come in earlier instead of walking out at No 5.
‘I think De Villiers should bat at No 3,’ Cullinan said. ‘It’s a huge disappointment for me that our big player is hiding in the middle order. He has got to bat upfront and lead the batting. Throughout his career, De Villiers has batted in the middle order, which is the easy option. In one-day cricket too, he bats too low. In Tests, he floats at No 4 or 5. His natural position should be No 3.
‘Unfortunately for South Africa, the best players are running scared and not prepared to take the pressure. He should take the pressure and not run away from it. He is the man in form; he is scoring runs and looking in extremely good touch.’
With Amla and Du Plessis struggling for runs, the role of Duminy becomes very important. Although he offers a spin option, former players like Ashwell Prince (who is also a national selector) want to see Duminy operating as a specialist batsman.
‘Du Plessis is not in form, so he should bat at No 5, Cullinan continued. ‘There’s no harm in playing [Temba] Bavuma at No 6 because he is a good player of spin. Duminy, if he doesn’t get runs now, his Test career is over. Duminy is a huge disappointment in Test cricket. If he doesn’t score in the next two Tests, he must go.
‘He plays because he can bowl a bit. But you need to support your top three batsmen. I think South Africa have a long tail. Dane Vilas isn’t a quality Test batsman.’