x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

Captain AB de Villiers can free South Africa of chokers tag

De Villiers is cast from the same type of leadership as MS Dhoni, the most successful captain in the short format, who lives by talent and wits rather than anything deeper, writes Paul Radley.

South Africa captain AB de Villiers can lead by example.
South Africa captain AB de Villiers can lead by example.

AB de Villiers is no great statesman. Not in the Graeme Smith mould, anyway. It is not hard to imagine that Smith, the long-serving Test captain, would have cut an impressive figure in the political machinations which always abound within the unique environment that is South African cricket.

Offered the chance to enter into any such prevarications, De Villiers, the Twenty20 leader of the Proteas, would probably rather be off surfing or playing golf.

Neither can we guess he is a great strategist. Mainly on the basis there is not much time left for thinking once all the batting, the wicketkeeping, as well as all the rest of the rigmarole surrounding being a captain has been done.

But also because De Villiers has always conveyed such freedom of spirit in the way he approaches his game, he just seems an unlikely tactician.

Not an obvious captain, then. All of which means he could be the best chance South Africa have had for breaking their major tournament hex, going to the World T20 in Sri Lanka.

Think less, act more is a neat mantra for success in T20 cricket. It could explain why Pakistan have always been just about the best side in the format.

De Villiers is cast from the same type of leadership as MS Dhoni, the most successful captain in the short format, who lives by talent and wits rather than anything deeper.

That way it is more difficult to contrive to find ways to choke. Why worry about working out whether a dot ball or a single sees you over the line via Duckworth-Lewis, when a six would settle the debate at a stroke?

pradley@thenational.ae

twitter Follow us @SprtNationalUAE