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Proteas limited overs captain AB de Villiers was full of praise for opening batsman Graeme Smith after the former skipper found form at the back end of the one-day international (ODI) series against Sri Lanka.
South Africa lost by two wickets in the fifth one final one-day international at the Wanderers on Sunday, but Smith made 125 runs at the top of the order – his first century in 36 ODI innings.
After being severely criticised by the media and the public for his recent batting displays, the opener also contributed 68 in the penultimate match in Kimberley.
“I'm really proud of the way Graeme batted through,” De Villiers said.
“We all are – we're really proud of the man – that's the least he deserved and going forward he'll take a lot of confidence and momentum with him to New Zealand.”
De Villiers guided South Africa to a 3-2 series victory over the tourists in his maiden one-day international (ODI) series as captain and was named Man of the Series as the top runs scorer from either side.
The wicketkeeper-batsman made 329 runs in the five matches at an average of 109.66, including an unbeaten 125 and 96.
He admitted, however, that it would not always be plain sailing.
“Captaincy is hard work but I'm enjoying it and it's great that I'm leading by example at the moment,” De Villiers said.
“I know I will get my tough patches in the future and I'll have to work through that, but I'm playing well at the moment and using that to my advantage.
“I'm still following the same game plans but timing it a bit sweeter than normal.”
De Villiers said he had become more aware, after his first tour as skipper, that the examples he set both on and off the field had a significant impact on the team.
“I realised that the guys feed off my energy and it's very important for me to be calm and in control the whole time,” he said.
“Leading from the front, not only with bat in hand, and with catching and so on, but the way I present myself out there, has a big influence.
“It was really tough at times but I think it's one of the most important things that I learned.”
In an unusual strategy, the Proteas rotated their middle-order batsmen depending on match situations.
“There is no set plan, and we will play it by ear on the day,” said the skipper.
“Gary and I decide which individual is best suited to the situation and he will go out and bat.
“We'll just mix it up as right- and left-hand combinations are also important when a spinner is bowling well, and it makes it a bit tougher for the spinner to settle.”
De Villiers said their philosophy to take things one step at a time would continue as the team prepared to embark on their tour of New Zealand in February.
“Our goal was to win both the Tests and the ODIs against Sri Lanka and we did that,” he said.
“We could have won the ODIs a bit more convincingly but it didn't happen that way.
“We'll go to New Zealand and that's a new challenge and our next goal.
“Obviously our long term goals are being number one in the world and winning a world cup.
“That's a huge dream for all of us and hopefully we'll get there, but for now, we'll just focus on getting ready for the New Zealand tour and performing well there.” – Sapa
@ Jakes - then what are you doing commenting on a cricket and proteas related article? @Richard - yes, he does need to do that, however, he is still learning how to go about it. He is new to the captaincy and just as a manager in business, who has never been a manager before, needs time to settle into the position, so does AB. Give him a break and I think he will become an outstanding captain.
Love cricket, wrote
We were lucky to get the 32 series win after a great comeback by Sri Lanka. We lacked the killer instinct to go for a 50 whitewash by playing around with so called “permutations for the future” and “rested” key players. Supporters deserve only the best possible selection and performance from our national teams at all times. If we then lose then we will humbly accept defeat. Supporters aren’t dim-witted so don’t play around with us. “Rested?” Rugby players endure weekly physical and bruising encounters and we “rest” our key players? Are we nursing premi donna’s? Even going home to see the baby in your own backyard doesn’t wash.
Greg Dolphin, wrote
smith has produced 2 good scores in last 2 games year 2012. from 2008 to 2011 his batting averages in 1 day shows a remarkable decline (ahh sorry steep decline). while 125 is good going he was particularly slow for 1 dayer, great for 5 day test match. in last game proteas lost because of a very slow run rate up to the 35th over after which it improved steadily. when smith tries to up his tempo he plays across and gets out. personally i'm particularly happy with that scenario but then who cares?
AB is happy with the batting--but hopeless at defending even good totals it seems --needs to use his bowlers and set fields so much better than he does
@ barry oh really moral victory for srilanka is it? dont kknow if you heard but we kinda bowled them out for 40 something runs the other day?THAT, IS MORAL VICTORY! (Edited by IOL)
hey situation go support bafana bafana
Rain saved the series for you.The third game would have been lost if it had gone on for 50 overs. Moral series win for the visitors.
lucky modiba, wrote
gud work Ab keep it up skipper
lucky modiba, wrote
what a fantastic perfomance by the proteas, especially Ab de villiers u've been a good leader man. keep it up......... go boysssssssssss
How tough can live be as a cricket player in SA? You never have to win world cups or any world related series and still get paid millions for this. It is so tough being a cricket player in SA, really!! Do people still follow and spent money and support the Proteas? I can not for the life of me see why?
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