No matter, which team you support, you always feel good when South Africa win.
Perhaps it’s South Africa’s ubiquity in the game that a million plus fans want De Villiers’ team to untangle its hold of the choker tag.
And regardless of opposition, whenever AB gets going, you are left asking a question- is there anything that this man can not do? He doesn’t bat- he hammers them. He doesn’t simply contain the flow of runs, rather flows out there.
But that said, for someone who could perhaps moonlight as a hockey star or, can on any given day, unite audiences with a mere strumming of the guitar; there is something that De Villiers probably can’t do.
Or at least cannot do that well vis-a-vis his batting perhaps. Does it occur to you that it’s De Villiers’ captaincy?
While there was hardly a doubt about the Proteas’ mental fragilities since losing big games, seems as much a part of South Africa’s DNA as is an Imran Tahir’s energetic celebration, the reasons behind this may be more than what meets the eye.
Last week, India didn’t just defeat South Africa. They riled them. At all this time, De Villiers simply stood there- seeming frozen in the brazen English weather.
Faf Du Plessis’ lambasting of the team’s performance in the Champions Trophy publically, ahead of the T20 series against England prior to that, only seems to compound the predicament of De Villiers’ problems?
What the heck is wrong with the giant killers of ODI Cricket?
Where are the South Africans messing it up, and with great consistency?
How come De Villiers doesn’t have answers; there’s Amla, de Kock, Faf around him, after all.
Could it be that the turmoil the team finds itself besieged in could well have something to do with a lack of clarity and smoothening in ties between South Africa’s ODI and Test skipper?
You love De Villiers as the Superman, but ever scrolled past his recent figures?
16. Duck. 4. 27 not out. Not the kind of form you expect from the fastest carver of an ODI century.
If Champions Trophy 2017 wasn’t sufficient indication of De Villiers’ deplorable form, the IPL 10 heightened concerns.
He made only 2 scores of over 40 in 9 IPL innings and has crossed 50 only once in 6 ODI innings hence.
So as fans, should we be concerned?
Bloody hell, yes.
Tactically speaking, throughout the recently concluded Champions Trophy, there has been enough evidence to suggest that De Villiers is either not focused on the task he has in hand or does not look entirely sure of himself.
Gosh, but that happens to the best of us, right?
Bowling changes and field placements have at best been questionable and at worst- dumbfounding.
But, unsurprisingly, skipper AB seems to be a targeted man of the press as well. There are questions that confound the man behind the congenial smile.
”Should you remain the captain,” and, ”Does South Africa need radical changes?”
It seems AB might prefer walking on broken glass rather than face up to a media trial that lack of performances and his own silent bat seem to be indicating.
Contrastingly, good hope is around too. De Villiers has given indicated to prolonging his career until the 2019 World Cup.
His will to represent South Africa and perhaps, join hands with the familiar forces of Amla, de Kock and, Faf in a renewed bid to conquer the unconquered in 2019 – stands profound.
So much so that he has opted out of Test Cricket for the remainder of 2017. The last, AB played a Test was January 2016.
There’s an additional advantage for AB- having a top tier national contract- allowing him to fit into and out of the set- up, picking formats he wants to be part of.
Does Faf have that advantage? Perhaps neither does the fastest man to reach 7000 ODI runs nor does South Africa’s go-to man of the current age- de Kock.
So could this have contributed to bringing some division amongst the senior pros in the team; hence, South Africa’s decaying performances in ICC events?
Here’s a hitherto less-visited achievement of De Villiers the captain.
Having captained the national team for now almost 6 years and in 103 ODI’s, he’s won 59 encounters.
If more than 50% of a winning rate isn’t enough- then what is?
But, despite this feather in his hat, AB De Villiers has been nonchalant and merely seemingly nice when asked why he wants to continue as captain.
It must be asked if, upon hearing a reply like, ”Because I can take this team forward, I can take us to win a World Cup,” De Villiers, leaves room for both speculation and pleasure reassurance?
Do you get an impression that even if cricket would have required the captain to do almost everything, is AB in a comfortable position right now?
In Cricket, too big a gap between series can make you ponder more on the negatives instead on delving on the positives.
In that regard, right after their Champions Trophy debacle, AB’s side have a chance to trample England in the T20s starting June 21.
Any doubts, considering selectors presumably axing AB as captain, isn’t happening.
But would you not want AB the batsman to take over. And, take over rather freely?
In the absence of Faf, back home to brace the birth of his child, is AB the right leader to guide South Africa?
But all that said, even as the night might seem darkest for his captaincy, there’s little doubt about AB’s abilities with the bat.
Or are there?
What one cannot change is that the ‘Superman’ of cricket is still a very, very, very good with a bat in hand. So will the real De Villiers please stand up as England stare South Africa in the eye?