International Cricket

AB de Villiers named ODI and T20 captain

AB De Villiers, has been named South Africa’s one-day and Twenty20 international captain, succeeding Graeme Smith, who had stood down following the 2011 World Cup but will remain the Test captain. Hashim Amla has been named vice-captain in both limited-over formats, while de Villiers is also Smith’s deputy in the Test team.

South Africa’s newly-appointed coach, Gary Kirsten, said the additional responsibility given to de Villiers, who will now have to be senior batsman, wicketkeeper and captain in the limited-over formats, had not yet been considered. “We have had one conversation about it and we will talk about it further,” Kirsten said.

de Villiers didn’t appear to be burdened by the additional tasks either. “There is a lot of responsibility on my shoulders and I am really looking forward to it,” he said at a press conference in Johannesburg. “I am obviously very excited and ready to learn. I am really looking forward to this whole challenge. I will work closely with Hashim and the coach. I have been through some ups and downs in my career and I am ready to take on anything.”

de Villiers’ dual appointment is in keeping with convenor of selectors Andrew Hudson’s vision that there would be continuity in captaincy. Hudson had said in April that the next one-day captain would be likely to become the next Test captain as well.

Kirsten said there was a “general feeling” that de Villiers was the right man for the job because of his certainty in the starting XI. “I think it’s important that you are looking at an individual whose name is the first or second on the team sheet, that does play a role,” he said.

Johan Botha, who was appointed Smith’s successor in the Twenty20 format in August 2010 has effectively been stripped of the captaincy. CSA chief executive Gerald Majola said that Botha had been informed of the news by telephone. “Everyone understands that we are selecting new captains and coaches and we just had to get hold of Johan and tell him he wasn’t selected.” Botha could well lose his place in the side because of the rise of Pakistan-born legspinner Imran Tahir and the return to form of Robin Peterson.

There was some speculation that Amla had been approached to take over the captaincy but had turned it down. He denied any such reports. Amla said he was happy with his vice-captain appointment because he considered himself an “under-the-radar character.”

“I did take a long time to think about it, I feel it is a huge responsibility. AB as captain for me is an excellent move, I have always respected him as a person,” Amla said. “I don’t think I am a big enough person to handle the captaincy. I turned down the Dolphins captaincy and I decided afterward that I would stick to my batting, and when this came up I took it. It is a perfect fit for me.”

Amla captained the Dolphins for one season in 2004-05 and he stepped down to concentrate on his batting, despite scoring 249 in the SuperSport Series final. He has only played three T20s and may be regarded as a surprise choice for the vice-captaincy in that format. “My career has gone in stages,” he said. “The next one for me will be to establish myself as a world class T20 player.”

Smith, who was also present at the press conference, said he had no regrets about stepping down as one-day captain and at no stage did he reconsider his decision. After eight years of captaining the ODI team, Smith said he was ready to relinquish the leadership and contribute as a senior player, while allowing de Villiers to grow into his new role.

“I am looking forward to having more freedom in the shorter formats of the game and to enjoying my cricket again,” he said. “I said to AB it is very important that he establishes himself in the job and finds his way. I will always be supportive if he needs me. He will need senior players to support him and I feel I will be a good shoulder for him to lean on.”

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