Johannesburg – Buoyed by their first series victory in Sri Lanka, South African One Day International (ODI) captain AB de Villiers says he has grown as a leader.
De Villiers first took over from Graeme Smith as captain in ODIs after the 2011 World Cup following South Africa's quarterfinal defeat to New Zealand.
The Proteas won the ODI series 2-1 in Sri Lanka, a stark contrast to a year ago where the hosts won 4-1.
“To follow in the footsteps of someone like Graeme Smith, it is natural to have a little bit of doubt,” De Villiers said in Johannesburg on Tuesday (SUBS: July 29).
“I didn't have doubt, but probably the confidence levels have grown over the last period.
“Just getting to know my players better played a huge role, knowing which guys to rely on more in pressure situations, which guys to strike with.
“I feel comfortable at the moment, I feel I have respect from the team which makes it easier.”
The Proteas' form in the ODIs bodes well for their ICC Cricket World Cup campaign in Australia and New Zealand in February.
“I don't think you'll ever be perfectly ready for a World Cup, I'd be stupid to say we're the perfect team and we're ready for the World Cup,” De Villiers said.
“Each guy knows what's expected of him, which wasn't the case when I took over.”
De Villiers said the team needed to improve certain aspects of their game if they wanted to be counted among the top sides in the world.
“We're not the strongest fielding team in the world and we've got eight months or so to fix that. Looking at our skills we're lacking in a few areas. I think we should be up there with the best two or three in the world.”
The upcoming tour of Zimbabwe would present opportunities for younger players in the three-match ODI series, Proteas' coach Russell Domingo said.
South Africa play a one-off Test against Zimbabwe in Harare starting on August 9, before three 50-over games against the hosts starting on August 17.
Domingo said he may rest Dale Steyn, Vernon Philander and Morne Morkel after a taxing tour of Sri Lanka.
“I'm sitting with the selectors next Tuesday before we head out,” said Domingo.
“It might be an ideal opportunity against Zimbabwe to look out for some of our younger fast bowlers and give them game time.
“Guys like Kyle Abbott and Wayne Parnell will come into the mix.”
Quinton de Kock kept wicket in the ODI series, and then took over from De Villiers with the gloves in the Test series as well.
After struggling with a hamstring and a back niggle following the ODI series, selectors told De Villiers to give the gloves to De Kock for the Tests.
De Villiers, however, said he was unsure whether he would keep wicket in the solitary Test against Zimbabwe.
“I knew after the ODIs and carrying a couple of niggles, I didn't have the time to prepare properly for the Tests as a wicketkeeper,” De Villiers said.
“I still wanted to take the gloves, but it was definitely the right decision from management to let me stay in the field.”
The break between the ODI series and the Test series in Sri Lanka was just three days, and the 30-year-old De Villiers said recovery time was a major factor in the decision.
“We're going to look at that again, that's still the plan for me to take the gloves in Tests,” he said.
“I'm carrying a couple of niggles right now. There's still room for me to stand behind the stumps. It's definitely a possibility, I'll just need a little bit more time than two or three days to really prepare well for Test wicketkeeping which I didn't have.
“Against Zim, I might just have a bit more time to prepare.” – Sapa