Win or lose, Proteas and De Villiers can hold their heads high

2015-03-24 00:00

AUCKLAND — Win or lose, AB de Villiers has no regrets about his team’s performance at the World Cup, or about his captaincy.

And no matter what happens this morning in the semi-final against New Zealand, he will continue to follow his instincts as captain, De Villiers said yesterday.

The Proteas started play against the undefeated Black Caps at 3 am (South African time) at Eden Park for a place in the final of this year’s spectacle.

The Proteas beat the West Indies by a tournament record 257 runs in Sydney and then ousted Sri Lanka in the quarter-finals by nine wickets at the same venue.

But it was the bloody nose the Proteas received twice in the group stages — against India and then Pakistan — that remained the cause for concern ahead of this morning’s clash.

The New Zealanders, meanwhile, flattened all that stood in their path as they have won all seven matches that they have played in the tournament to date. They have also won their last nine games on home soil.

“Sometimes, things go well and then I am obviously very happy about it. But when we lose, I am really down, because I hate to lose,” he said.

“It’s normal to be down for a while if you lose, to look at where we went wrong and to try to improve as a team and as a captain.

“That could be the case again [this] morning. Of course I’m nervous, but at the same time, I am also very excited. Hopefully I make the right decisions and my players stand behind me. I know that they will.”

De Villiers has refused to make comparisons between him and his predecessor, Graeme Smith — who guided the men in green and gold in two failed World Cup campaigns — in 2007 and 2011. “It’s very hard to compare myself to Graeme. He was a great leader, who has achieved many great things for South African cricket,” he said.

“I’ve been doing this for a couple of years now and I’m still not quite sure where I stand as captain. Besides, I think it’s other people’s responsibility to evaluate my captaincy.”

De Villiers has been widely praised for his field placings and tactical decision-making after the quarter-final at the SCG — the Proteas’ first victory ever in a knockout match at the tournament. “I have heard I did well against Sri Lanka, but I honestly just trust my instincts and put my trust in the bowlers. For me it was really just another cricket match and that’s how I try to approach it every time.”

World Cup winning percentage as captain

71%:AB de Villiers (2015)*

65%: Graeme Smith (2007, 2011)

50%: Shaun Pollock (2003)

73%: Hansie Cronje (1996, 1999)

56%: Kepler Wessels (1992)

* Before this morning’s semi-final against New Zealand.

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