AB or not AB:
That is the question:
AB de Villiers has been the source of much debate recently in cricket circles around South Africa. During the World Cup last year there was speculation that AB wanted to make a come back to the national set-up and at the time I was all for it. It was decided, however, that AB would not be needed and so we soldiered through a rather underwhelming World Cup campaign. Now at that time, my thinking was that for a one-off tournament I am all for him coming back into the team as I believe he can help us win games and possibly the tournament.
AB has recently announced that he would love to make a come back into the T20 international set up for the Proteas. Again, if he is only coming in for the tournament and not for an extended period then I am all for it. AB is a fantastic player and still one of the world’s best batsmen. If he has earned his spot in the team then I have no problem with him coming into the team.
If, however, he wants an extended run in the team for a few years I would be hesitant to keep him in the setup. We’ve seen in the test team how difficult he has been to replace. As well as the likes of Hashim Amla, Jacques Kallis, Graeme Smith and Dale Steyn. I would like South Africa to move on from AB and find the new AB. Someone to take us forward into a New Era of SA cricket. There are some wonderful young cricketers coming through the system and hopefully if given a chance can shine for the Proteas.
Moving on from our great players of the last decade has proved problematic for the Proteas and I think that with a little more attention to detail while we were playing well and on top of the world would have gone a long way. I tend to remember series in both tests and one-day internationals that had already been won where a chance or two could have been given to fringe players, to get a custom to cricket at the highest level. The powers that be chose not to go that route and I believe that was an error in judgement, possibly thinking that the next crop will be just as good or better than what we had at the time. We did not plan for life after those great players and as such we are paying the penalty now when winning is very difficult for the Proteas.
There will be those who are currently in the setup whose place will be in jeopardy by the return of AB and those who feel it will be unfair for him to pick and choose when he wants to play for the national team. There will be those who say it does not matter and that all that matters are that we win the World Cup. I don’t think having AB in for one tournament will stunt the growth of any potential young cricketer. I think it would be a one and done situation and I believe it can work out well if CSA, AB and the Protea coaching staff can manage the situation correctly. Part of why AB left with something still in the tank might be because of the mismanagement within CSA and if his return is because he believes we are now on the right track then I would welcome him with open arms.
In closing, if I was in charge, I’d let AB come back for this tournament on the agreement that it would be his last for SA. Hopefully we could win the tournament and the decision would be a successful one. SA would finally be over the jump in terms of winning a World Cup and AB would take a large portion of the credit. I think getting rid of the chokers tag is that important and getting over that mental hurdle of winning a World Cup could unleash SA cricket in a way we haven’t seen before. Players coming in could play with freedom knowing that the pressure had been somewhat eased by those before them and perhaps winning the T20 World Cup could be a steppingstone for greater things for the Proteas. It certainly couldn’t hurt or make things worse!