De Villiers to open the batting for SA
AB de Villiers will take on a new role for South Africa’s Twenty20 (T20) team when he opens the batting against Pakistan, Proteas captain Faf du Plessis said in Durban on Thursday.
De Villiers, the former skipper of the T20 team, will also be asked to keep wicket in Friday’s match against Pakistan at Sahara Stadium Kingsmead, the first game of the two-match series.
The 29-year-old De Villiers began his senior cricket career as an opening batsman but has since established himself as a middle-order batsman.
Du Plessis said that it was vital that that the best batsman faced the most balls in T20 cricket and that De Villiers was ideally suited to the opening role, especially looking forward to the next ICC World T20 in Bangladesh next year.
“We just feel that AB is one of the best batsmen in the world. He’s one of those guys who on his day can score a century. There are not a lot of players like that in the world and we feel AB is definitely that, an X-factor player,” Du Plessis told a news conference.
“There are only a handful of players in the world that can score centuries up front. Without putting any extra pressure on AB he is a fantastic player, he is a great striker of the ball, he plays proper cricket shots and he can also take the game away from the opposition.
“He is good against spin and seam and he a natural flair player. He will combine well with Henry Davids, who is a player who will take you on all the time, and AB will offer a good balance in that opening partnership,” he added.
Du Plessis explained that the Proteas had just 12 T20 matches before the World T20 and that is was important that new ideas were tried as quickly as possible.
“AB has opened the batting in his career, so we’ll see how it goes. It’s a call we’re making to see what we can get out of it because AB is such a brilliant player and you want to get your best players in as early as possible. He’s also really excited about,” he explained.
One concerning aspect of the Proteas’ limited-overs teams in the recent past has been their inability to find a good, consistent death bowler. Du Plessis said that he hoped that the inclusion of paceman Kyle Abbott would help to fix that particular problem.
Abbott made a stunning start to his international career recently by taking a seven-wicket haul on his test debut against Pakistan but he initially made his name as a top-class limited overs bowler for his franchise team, the Sunfoil Dolphins.
“That’s a very important thing that we’ve looked at in terms of our shorter form of the game.
Something that we can really improve on is our death bowling and our skills at the death. And we certainly feel Kyle brings that, he’s been excellent in domestic cricket with bowling at the death. So we’ll definitely use him and see how he goes,” he said.
Du Plessis went on to say that left-arm quick Lonwabo Tsotsobe was over his ankle injury and would play in Durban but that left-arm spinner Robin Peterson had a stiff neck and would need to undergo a fitness test before his availability for the match could be determined.