South Africa will have to box clever when it comes to the management of the team.
The World Cup is such a big event, which often prompts changes that are not really necessary, because it’s something different to a regular series – and there is that extra pressure to perform.
There will be expectations of us, we cannot get away from that. We are one of the best teams in the world and we will have to play with the pressure that comes along with that. Being one of the favourites, we must embrace the challenge.
World Cups can present a strange situation for some players who put a lot of pressure on themselves – and the event can be unenjoyable. I want to see our guys carry on
as normal, giving themselves the best opportunity to win at the World Cup, not changing too much. We must not put too much pressure on ourselves.
The squad is relatively settled, but a key decision awaits in the batting order. AB de Villiers is the world’s best batsman. I want to see him come in and run the whole innings, with other batsmen working around him. South Africa will win
at least nine out of 10 games if he gets big runs.
He needs to come to the crease when we have plenty of overs in hand, which will allow him and the team the time to get those big scores. I’d prefer to have him batting at four in the order, rather than five or even six. David Miller’s role is seen as a finisher, but there is a lot more to his game than that. He needs to see the confidence in his own game to realise that he can bring even more to the team.
He needs to take the innings deep and bat through to the 45th over and beyond – that must be communicated to him frequently. If I were a coach, I’d only want to give him licence to smash it all over the park after the 45th over. Sometimes he tries too much, too soon. I just don’t want to see him going at it too early.
As for Kyle Abbott, well, he is one of my first choices in the team, depending on what sort of pitch is being played on. There are not going to be too many flat wickets in Australia, so those conditions will suit him very well. His selection also helps with the balance of the unit.
We’ve been blessed with some very good all-rounders, but they’ve dried up for now. The game of ODI cricket is often about how many runs you’ve scored, but you still have to be able to take wickets. I‘d rather have outright bowlers – like Abbott – than bits-and-pieces ones, which you might be able to get away with on the subcontinent, but not in Australia.
This column appears in the current issue of SACricket magazine, on sale now.