AB de Villiers is one of the most intimidating cricketers in the world. South Africa need to use it to their advantage. The man is very humble, so ‘imposing’ himself doesn’t automatically occur to him. That doesn’t mean it can’t be used as a strategy and should be considered.
Those who bat before him can attack and put the bowlers under pressure, safe in the knowledge that the captain is still to come. AB can play every sort of innings, including at a pace faster than anyone else on earth.
He can’t succeed every time, but like Chris Gayle, Brendon McCullum and perhaps David Warner and a few others --- the reputation can affect the attitude and performance of the opposition. And AB’s reputation must be more intimidating than that of anyone else at this moment.
I always enjoyed knowing where I was going to bat, but was open to flexibility and understood the role it could play. Right-handers and left-handers, the style of batsmen against certain bowlers, middle overs and death overs, they all played a role. But with AB, so does his reputation.
The size and significance of the defeat to India has now been wiped out. It hurt AB a lot to lose by 130 runs, and he made no secret of that. It was suggested he could have downplayed it, but he is who he is, and I enjoyed his honesty. To hit back with a 257-run win against West Indies probably exceeded even his wildest dreams.
Finishing atop Group B would be good for India and South Africa, but India have the inside track. A top two finish, however, is likely to be good enough to avoid a quarterfinal against Australia or New Zealand. It is true that a team has to “beat the best to be the best” but that doesn’t mean they should take anything for granted.
South Africa’s squad and the final XI are more flexible than I can ever remember. There used to be a couple of like-for-like swap options, but the balance was always secure. Now, they are back to the “extra batsman” or “extra bowler” option combined with assessing how much of a bowler or batsman certain players are.
Over many years were comfortable with our selection. Three or four all-rounders always helped. Now things are different and there needs to be creativity in selection. Instead of that being a ‘problem’, it’s being treated as a challenge. I’m enjoying that positive approach.