In & Out: Superman steps out of the Batcave

2015-03-15 15:00

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A few months ago, I dedicated an entire column to AB de Villiers and his decade of sterling service to the Proteas and cricket in general.

It was an easy column to write, because at the time it seemed AB was the easiest subject – a relatively uncomplicated chap with boundless talent, unforceful yet effective leadership abilities and an endearing personality befitting a golden retriever co-starring in a schmaltzy coming-of-age family film.

But what transpired in the media over the past week made me doubt that notion of AB.

After losing to Pakistan last week, the Proteas’ ODI captain punctuated his frustration with his team by telling them publicly that he couldn’t carry them on his shoulders. “I can’t win the World Cup alone,” he was quoted in this paper as saying. “I hate to lose and, at the moment, I have nothing good to say about the team?…?Perhaps we are just not as good as we think we are.”

Fast-forward a few days, heading into the clash with the United Arab Emirates (UAE), and AB was back to his bright old self.

He was quoted in ESPNcricinfo as saying he believed “100% we are the best team in the tournament”, adding that the “energy is back”.

What all this affirmed was that AB, too, has inner conflicts and, perhaps, demons, which make him all the more interesting. He’s more of a Batman than a Superman, it seems.

The regained “energy” AB spoke of showed on Thursday against the UAE. But with an in-form Sri Lanka looming as quarterfinal opponents, AB’s 99 and David Miller’s 49 against the lowly UAE will linger at the back of the players’ minds.

A convincing win against an associate nation is one thing, but keeping focus at crucial moments is another, and falling just short of the mark could prove to be portentous in the upcoming knockout match.

With team selection the hot topic after Quinton de Kock’s abysmal batting displays, there’s (hopefully) a spot in the starting XI up for grabs. Some pundits have even suggested Wayne Parnell be thrust up the order as a pinch-hitter and fifth bowler, although the effectiveness of such a move might be plausible only in the realm of science fiction.

Whoever comes in, AB will have to take the gloves, which he is loath to do, and for good reason.

It’s been said many times before: desperate times call for desperate measures. And by the look of AB’s turmoil, as projected in the media, he is desperate to win the World Cup. To achieve this, he knows he will have to make some tough decisions and convince the coaching staff that the strategy he no doubt has lurking in his extraordinary cricketing mind is the one to adopt.

As Edgar Allen Poe said: “The true genius shudders at incompleteness – imperfection – and usually prefers silence to saying the something which is not everything that should be said.”

I get the impression that whatever AB has said in the public domain over the past week was not without consideration for the completeness he wants to achieve – as an individual and the captain of a team out to prove something.

@Longbottom_69 is an armchair cricket critic. He’s afraid that if Russell Domingo shows faith in Parnyboy, it’ll be De Kock-up

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