Johannesburg – A few weeks ago I mentioned how South Africa would begin building towards the World Cup.
There would be experimenting, ahem, rotation and most likely some defeats. Players would be thrust into tough positions, asked difficult questions, put under pressure and their mental wherewithal scrutinised.
As viewers and commentators we would not be happy, but it’s probably right to discover now what will make South Africa a better team in two years time.
Still, the two defeats (and thus a series loss) against New Zealand were shocking. The ill-discipline in Paarl – which led to a suspension for AB de Villiers – and the sheer amateurish batting performance – five run-outs is what you’d expect to see at schoolboy level – should be a shock to the system.
The general feeling about the two limited overs sides (the ODI and T20) is that South Africa don’t appear to take those formats as seriously as the Test format.
We’ve seen Jacques Kallis rested for South Africa’s last two ODI series – a move to ensure his career is lengthened and that he can in fact make it to the next World Cup, bowlers are rotated, batsmen are shifted in and out of the side and most critically, De Villiers seems to be given what he wants.
The fact is, the South African One-Day side is a better team with De Villiers as its wicket-keeper (Gary Kirsten and Graeme Smith seem to think it makes the Test team better). Like with the Test side, it allows the selectors to play the extra batsman or bowler or an all-rounder.
The fact that De Villiers is allowed to give up the wicket-keeping duties in order to “focus” on his captaincy was a poor call on all fronts. De Villiers must keep, and if he can’t do that, captain the side and bat, then a new captain must be found.
The series loss to New Zealand should force the selectors and the coaching staff into make some hard decisions, starting with the leadership of the side. If there is concern that De Villiers is wearing too many hats, then remove one of them, which I think should be the captaincy.
And because the former vice-captain, Hashim Amla, wants to “concentrate on his batting,” and thus not captain the side, another captain should be sought. Is Faf du Plessis that man? Perhaps, he certainly impressed teammates and the coaching staff with his leadership of the SA A side last year.
Whatever is decided, a call must be made now, and then implemented during the five-match series with Pakistan. South Africa look directionless at the moment. It’s time to make some tough decisions. – The Star