AB de Villiers says he wants to lead the Proteas at the next World Cup in England in 2019.
‘We do come up short for some reason. I can’t explain exactly what happens.’ That was the explanation, or lack thereof, as to why the Proteas continue to disappoint at major tournaments.
Off the back of a record-equalling win streak and the No 1 ODI ranking, the Proteas, in theory, and indeed on paper, should’ve challenged for the Champions Trophy this year. But the 19-year wait will become a 21-year one when they return to the UK for the 2019 World Cup, and De Villiers is adamant that he will be there.
‘Absolutely,’ he said at the post-match press conference when asked if the expects to be an ODI player in two years’ time. ‘I’m not thinking about the next one right now,’ he continued. ‘We just need to get through this hurt now.’
And hurting the Proteas should be. Their clinical victory in their tournament opener against Sri Lanka was supposed to be followed up with early progression to the semi-finals with victory over Pakistan. But their unexpected defeat, as well as Sri Lanka’s win against India, left what was effectively a quarter-final match against India at the Oval on Sunday.
De Villiers said it was the way in which they lost that disappointed him the most. They were well set; at one point they were on 126-1. But that then became 191 all out, and soul-destroying fifties from Shikhar Dhawan and Virat Kohli set up the eight-wicket victory.
The respective run outs of De Villiers and David Miller were the focal points of the innings, and it makes it difficult to see past the fact that South Africa are unable to handle pressure situations. De Villiers said it had nothing to do with it.
‘We’ve tried a few things … camps and psychologists,’ he said. ‘In my mind that wasn’t the problem. It wasn’t a mental thing, we were just poor on the day.’
His opposite number Virat Kohli mentioned at the pre-match press conference that the team with the most composure will win the game, but focused on his side’s own performance as the reason for victory.
‘I don’t want to say South Africa are in dilemma,’ Kohli said. ‘We played good cricket; it was their turn to lose today.
‘The [South African] batsmen looked pretty confident; getting their big hitters early was a bonus. When AB was in they were going well, the run outs were the turning point today.’
The Proteas are seemingly going backwards when it comes to major tournaments. It’s the first time they’ve been knocked out at the group stage of a major tournament since the 2009 Champions Trophy.
Not only has De Villiers put firmly on record that he will be at the next World Cup, but he intends to lead the side too. The decision-makers at CSA will have their hands full over the next few months, and this is one that will require substantial care and attention.
‘Because I’m a good captain,’ De Villiers said when asked if he should continue to lead the side. ‘I can take this team forward, I can win a World Cup. That’s what I believe and I love doing it.