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Cape Town – South Africa's ODI captain AB de Villiers is relishing his first opportunity to lead his team without keeping wicket.
“I have always felt a bit rushed trying to captain the side and keep wicket,” De Villiers said on Friday in Cape Town.
“I will probably stand at mid-off and be able to communicate with my bowlers a lot better as well as get a better perspective of the game.”
De Villiers had been in charge of the one-day team since 2011 and had conducted affairs in all 13 of those matches from behind the wicket.
Quinton de Kock, the 20-year-old Highveld Lion, would now take over the gloves in the first of three ODIs against New Zealand, starting on Saturday at Paarl.
De Villiers acknowledged the ODI team had not been consistent, winning nine of the 13 matches under his watch.
Having climbed to the top of the ODI rankings, just one point ahead of England, South Africa needed to win the series 3-0 to maintain their position.
“We will just take one game at a time, and not worry about rankings,” De Villiers said.
“We need to build a team for the next World Cup, and we need to produce consistent results. We have to Champions Trophy coming up in June which is a massive tournament for us on the way to the 2015 World Cup.”
The team were still trying to establish a solid batting line-up, but would persist with the policy of a floating line-up, sending players in as the circumstances demanded, rather than sticking to a rigid batting order.
South Africa had not played a 50-overs match since winning the fifth and final ODI in England in September, which enabled them to draw the series 2-2.
New Zealand had a mountain to climb if anything was to be salvaged from their South African tour.
Beaten 2-1 in the T20 series and comprehensively outplayed in the two-Test series, they were determined to go out fighting.
Captain Brendon McCullum believed the addition of specialised one-day player Kyle Mills would add strength to a team which, he said, were “incredibly focused and determined to put up the best fight they can”.
“Kyle is very experienced with a good record and he will provide some leadership – we have been a bit short of leadership,” said McCullum.
“We know we can perform with the white ball and the spirit in the change room is good.”
As in the Test series, the New Zealand line-up was not at full strength. Johannesburg-born Grant Elliott was brought in for the injured Corey Anderson and Neil Wagner, who spent his early years in Pretoria, was added when Adam Milne aggravated a leg injury.
A victory over South Africa would end a dismal run for the Black Caps, who had not won a series for over a year. Their last win was against Zimbabwe – languishing in 10th place the world rankings – and then the Kiwis were beaten 3-0 by South Africa at home immediately afterwards.
The second ODI will be played at Kimberley on Tuesday and the third at Potchefstroom on Friday. – Sapa