Durban – AB de Villiers’ relationship with international T20 cricket remains tentative, with decisions yet to be taken on whether he will keep wicket or where he will bat in the first match against Pakistan at Kingsmead on Friday.
“I haven’t really found a rhythm yet in T20 cricket,” De Villiers told on Wednesday.
“I’m still finding my way… exactly where I’m going to bat, whether I’m a finisher, in the middle-order or in the top three, maybe. And I’m still not sure if I’m going to keep. It’s between myself and Quinton (de Kock), obviously, but we’re still deciding on that.”
Explaining his current lack of feel for the format, De Villiers said a big problem was that the team hadn’t played a lot.
“It’s difficult to find our way. We’re going to play a couple in this series, then three, four months down the line we’ll play another one, maybe two. It was difficult for me, especially when I was captain.”
Is he happier now that Faf du Plessis is captain of the T20 side?
“I’m quite happy with Faffie as captain now, so I can focus more on the one-dayers, with Graeme (Smith) obviously dealing with the Tests.”
De Villiers, who remains a key component of the T20 team, said he didn’t find adapting to the different forms of the game too difficult.
What he was struggling with, however, was personally “finding his way into the T20 format and scoring a lot of runs”.
Further elaborating on his batting situation, De Villiers said it would definitely be “top four”, but he wanted to finally fix on a position and stick with it.
“Obviously it’s only 20 overs and the key is for me to bat as long as possible. But we’ve still got to make a decision on that.”
The Proteas’ T20 team has been fixed as an obvious entry point into the national set-up for young, talented players. This has led, however, to a certain volatility in the composition of the team, leading to De Villiers’s concerns.
“We haven’t played a lot of cricket together as yet. It makes it tough when we do change the team around a lot, because we haven’t got a proper feeling for each other. We need to try to develop the patterns of play that Graeme (Smith) has spoken about so many times in the context of the Test team.”
Clearly there’s a significant gap in quality between the stability and settled nature of the Test squad compared with the teams playing in the limited-overs formats.
Looking ahead to the T20 World Cup in Bangladesh in March next year, De Villiers was optimistic that things would have improved by then.
“I definitely believe that the results will start to show if we have a consistency of selection over the next 12 to 24 months,” he said.
De Villiers said South Africa faced a tough two-match series against Pakistan.
“I’ve seen the names in their T20 squad, and there’s some proper cricketers coming over here. We’re playing in our own conditions and that’s obviously an advantage, but they’re a very dangerous side. They beat us in the T20 World Cup (in Sri Lanka last year), and they hurt us badly. That was probably the game that unravelled the tournament for us.”
De Villiers said players such as Shahid Afridi and Shoaib Malik were not only world-class players, but also had experience.
“They’ve won World Cups before, so I’m expecting them to come here and provide a very tough challenge for us.”
Meanwhile, Lonwabo Tsotsobe will have a fitness test today on an injured ankle that has kept him out of cricket for the past five weeks.
The left-arm paceman only bowled at three-quarter pace in the nets yesterday. – The Mercury