When he looks back on his career, it seems unlikely that AB de Villiers will recall the last few months with much fondness.
After a disappointing stint in the IPL, where he only passed 40 twice in nine appearances, he has carried that form into ODIs for South Africa with a solitary score over 50 in his last six attempts – in those 15 innings he has also made seven scores of 10 or less.
Now South Africa have been knocked out of the Champions Trophy in a fashion that was embarrassing even by the high standards of catastrophe set by Proteas sides of the past. However the team can’t even go home to lick their wounds in private, they stay on in England to complete the T20 and Test match legs of their tour.
De Villiers of course has ruled himself out of Tests for South Africa for some time, as he looks to manage his workload having returned from injury – although in this kind of form South Africa are not exactly going to miss him.
The usually free-swinging batsman has not looked himself during this tour of England, often slightly brusque with the media and all too impatient at the crease, lasting just four balls against Sri Lanka and picking up the first golden duck of his 213-innings ODI career against Pakistan.
Against India he looked in better touch but a needless run out with Faf du Plessis - not the first time the pair have been involved in a high-profile running mishap - cut him down before he ever really got going and after that South Africa’s innings fell to pieces as drastically as an Alsatian bounding into a game of Jenga.
It is not just with bat in hand though that De Villiers has looked out of touch, with the tournament raising questions about his long-term credentials as ODI captain.
With Faf du Plessis broadly making a success of things in the T20 and Test arenas, his natural leadership skills clearly visible, the need for De Villiers to carry on as ODI skipper is becoming less and less obvious – particularly with Du Plessis often seeming to give instructions to his teammates in the field independent of De Villiers anyway.
Against Pakistan the captaincy of De Villiers, or rather the mistakes he appeared to make, could clearly be seen as a big contributing factor in why they lost a game that nobody had expected them to.
Despite being bowled out for 219, a fiendish spell from Morne Morkel, followed by good work from Chris Morris and Imran Tahir, had put their notoriously brittle opponents under pressure and with rain almost certainly on the way it was important to maintain that.
De Villiers however opted to turn to the expensive Wayne Parnell instead of going back to Morkel – who when finally called upon again instantly produced another wicket – however by then the damage had been done. Against Parnell, Pakistan had released some pressure and got themselves ahead of the Duckworth-Lewis-Stern rate – when the rain came they would be the ones on the winning side.
Fronting up to the media in the wake of his side’s humiliating tournament exit, De Villiers insisted that he “absolutely” wanted to play at the 2019 World Cup and maintained that he was “a good captain” – on the basis of this tournament it is difficult to agree with him.
For the latest updates from ICC Champions Trophy 2017 Click Here
Published Date: Jun 12, 2017 09:35 am | Updated Date: Jun 12, 2017 09:35 am