Proteas ready for England attack

England have a very talented bowling attack, which will pose a challenge for South Africa.

That was the message from one of South Africa’s top batsmen, AB de Villiers, as the Proteas got stuck into preparations for the five one-day internationals (ODIs) against England, starting at the Wanderers on Friday.

“The likes of [Stuart] Broad, [Jimmy] Anderson—there are quite a few good bowlers there,” said De Villiers.

“But our batters are aware of that, and we’ve analysed them pretty well. We’ve also played a lot of games against them in the last two years, so we know all about them and we’re going to have to play very well.
It’s a big challenge for our batters.”

De Villiers said the Proteas had been somewhat puzzled that specialist leg-spin bowler Adil Rashid was taken off after only one over in the second Pro20 match in Centurion on Sunday.

South Africa scored the second highest total in international Twenty20 history, and beat England convincingly by 84 runs.

“We were actually talking about it when [Joe] Denly came on to bowl,” he said.

“I was sitting next to Mickey [Arthur] in the dugout, and he said ‘what’s going on here. Rashid is a class bowler—why are they bringing on a guy like Denly?’

“That’s not mind games,” said De Villiers. “That’s just chatting about the opposition. I just think it’s bad for a guy’s confidence, especially a youngster just coming in, when you bring in a guy like Denly.

“He [Rashid] could have taken a wicket at any time. He’s got a lot of talent and he’s going to get a lot of wickets in the future.”

De Villiers has been given added responsibility by being moved up the order to bat at number three in ODIs—a position long held by South Africa’s premier batsman Jacques Kallis, who will open the batting with Graeme Smith.

He said he welcomed the additional responsibility, but would not be changing his approach to batting.

“Mickey’s asked me to play the same game,” he said.

“Obviously I’m going to get different conditions and different challenges, coming in at different times, but that’s what a professional should do.

“At this level, you’ve got to have the ability to adapt and bat accordingly. But it’s a great challenge for me to play up the order and I’m looking forward to scoring a few big ones.”

Asked what South Africa expected of Andrew Strauss, who did not play in the Twenty20s, De Villiers said they thought he was a good leader.

“He’s a class captain. He showed it in the Ashes. To handle the last Test match the way he did, he’s obviously very, very good, and it’s going to be a great challenge between him and Graeme Smith.

“They’re both very strong captains. I’ve played under Graeme for the last six years and I think he’s the best captain in the world at the moment.

“What is going to make the difference between them is the performance—I believe the one who performs better will have a bigger effect on the team.”

De Villiers raised a laugh when one of the British journalists, playing a few mind games of her own, asked what he remembered of South African-born Kevin Pietersen’s magnificent ODI century in the tied match in Bloemfontein in January 2005, the match in which De Villiers made his debut.

“I don’t remember much,” he said. “I just remember we won the series four-one.”—Sapa