Herschelle: Kohli far better at dealing with pressure than AB

ICC Champions Trophy

JOHANNESBURG – Herschelle Gibbs is brutally honest in his analysis of the Proteas’ performance in the International Cricket Council (ICC) Champions Trophy.

“They (the Proteas) have a fear of failure, it’s so obvious,” remarks the former Proteas opening batsman.

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AB de Villiers battled at the crease and with his captaincy in the Champions Trophy. Photo: John Sibley, Action Images via ReutersAB de Villiers congratulates IPL teammate Virat Kohli. Photo: APFaf du Plessis falls to his knees as David Miller is run out against India. Photo: APHerschelle Gibbs is the leading run-scorer for the Proteas in Champions Trophy cricket. Photo: Reuters

While a number of former Proteas players have distanced themselves from the negativity surrounding the performance of the national cricket team, Gibbs is open to sharing his thoughts on South Africa’s early exit from the tournament in England.

“They (the Proteas) aren’t the best under pressure. It’s as simple as that. We need players who enjoy playing under pressure and (do) not buckle, and unfortunately that is something that we don’t have.”

The Proteas’ inability to handle pressure was evident last Sunday, when they succumbed to an embarrassing eight-wicket defeat against India, which resulted in South Africa being eliminated from the tournament.

The Proteas crumbled from 116/1 to 191 all out in good batting conditions at The Oval in London, before Shikhar Dhawan and India captain Virat Kohli shared a fluent partnership of 128 to lead India to victory with 12 overs to spare.

Gibbs isn’t surprised by the Proteas’ inability to deal with a high-pressure game. “The truth lies in the statistics at ICC competitions. If that doesn’t improve, we will never win one. If pressure doesn’t bring out the best in you, nothing will.”

AB de Villiers walks off after a first-ball duck against Pakistan. Photo: Reuters

South Africa went into the tournament as the top-ranked one-day international team in the world, and were listed as one of the bookies’ favourites to win the tournament.

But Gibbs isn’t convinced. “People are too optimistic about us in ICC competitions. The players’ stats in these tournaments are not great. I don’t know why anyone thinks we’ll do well in tournaments like these.”

Coming up against India in a do-or-die match was always going to be tough for the Proteas. But their inability to deal with pressure was the major difference between the two teams, says Gibbs.

“Virat Kohli is far better at dealing with pressure than AB de Villiers. That’s where Virat is a class above. He can handle pressure, and stats don’t lie.

“During my time as a cricketer, I thrived from playing in high-pressure games more than anything else. The big moments brought out the best in me.”

Gibbs, who still holds the record as South Africa’s top run-scorer in ICC Champions Trophy tournaments, believes another reason for the Proteas’ failure in recent tournaments is the lack of depth in the current squad.

“We have one or two world-class bowlers and batsmen, but unfortunately there’s no depth in our cricket anymore, so they have to choose the same group of players over and over. I see so many naive comments that people make about the Proteas. They clearly have the wool over their eyes, and are scared to say it as it is.”

Gibbs is critical of Proteas captain AB de Villiers for his poor performances and lack of commitment to the national team.

Former Proteas batsman Ashwell Prince also took to social media to voice his dismay at De Villiers’ poor performances in England.

On Sunday, Prince tweeted: “Perhaps it’s time that @OfficialCSA dictates to players when they may have the honour of representing this country instead of the other way round.”

Ashwell Prince feels Cricket South Africa should clamp down on players picking and choosing when to play for the Proteas. Photo: BackpagePix

Gibbs agrees. “There is nobody bigger than the game. We have a player who dictates when he wants to play and when he doesn’t want to. It shouldn’t be that way.”

Former South African captain Graeme Smith says he was disappointed to see the team knocked out so early in the ICC Champions Trophy. The players “have been missing that spark, or that intensity to their play that characterises South Africa cricket,” Smith wrote in his weekly ICC column.

Smith could see the “panic creep” into the dressing room and out in the middle during the crunch game against India.

“It’s the team’s approach that has been the missing ingredient. Since the team started against England in May, it hasn’t looked right to me as an observer.

“Whereas I’ve grown so used to the free-flowing, often powerful starts to our batting, on Sunday it was slightly timid, and that led to a position where you could almost see a panic creep into our play,” Smith wrote.

Despite the criticism, he believes this squad is still one of the best the country has ever produced. “I still believe this to be a wonderful short-form side, with very few, if any, weaknesses,” says Smith.

“It just hasn’t happened on the field, especially with the bat, and I know that those players will be hurting.”

Saturday Star

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