Sport / Columnists

Heinz Schenk
2 minute read
26 Nov 2018
8:55 am

AB is trying way too hard in the Mzansi Super League

Heinz Schenk

The Proteas legend hasn't lit up the league he's supposed to carry because he's playing too many weird shots.

AB de Villiers walks off after losing his wicket during the Mzansi Super League match between Durban Heat and Tshwane Spartans at Sahara Stadium Kingsmead on November 21, 2018 in Durban, South Africa. (Photo by Anesh Debiky/Gallo Images)

Two weekends ago, there was an interesting moment on television commentary in the MSL match between the Paarl Rocks and Tshwane Spartans.

Dominic Cork, the former England seamer, was on duty and made a pretty striking comment.

AB de Villiers had just arrived at the crease, prompting Cork to say: “I wonder if this man has ever felt out of form”.

It’s truly an innocent and understandable remark.

After all, we’re talking about “Mr 360” here – the man who can play every shot imaginable and also conjure up unimaginable batting feats.

This man hit an ODI century off 31 balls for goodness sake.

However, Cork’s commentary stirred me inside.

Not because De Villiers categorically states in his popular autobiography that he had his crises of confidence and still feels butterflies in the stomach when he bats.

I’ve watched all of the retired international’s innings in the MSL to date.

There’s no doubt he’s CSA’s major drawcard for this infant of a T20 tournament.

And, in my humble opinion, De Villiers is trying too hard.

He’s scored 101 runs in his first three innings, which is more than respectable, but I can’t agree with his great friend Faf du Plessis, who earlier this week said De Villiers is hitting the ball better than ever.

De Villiers has mixed the sublime with a substantial number of mistimed (by his standards) shots.

In Paarl, seemed to have picked up a slower ball from Dwayne Bravo, yet didn’t seem to realise that he had to clear the long boundary of the ground and didn’t quite adjust accordingly.

During his 59 in the opening match against the Cape Town Blitz, there were a few deliveries where his frustration at not getting a desired result was clear.

Then there was Wednesday’s kicker: an attempted switch-hit reverse sweep, where he fell over and was trapped in front by the wily Keshav Maharaj.

On a day where the Spartans needed him to consolidate for just a bit, impetuosity got the better of him.

It didn’t get much better this past weekend.

Just the second ball into his innings against the Giants, he tried a ramp shot against Carmi le Roux and was plumb in front again.

That wicket meant the Spartans fell behind the DLS method and lost when the rain came.

I personally don’t think De Villiers is underestimating the bowlers.

Given how excited he’s been about playing, it seems more like he’s trying to fulfil everyone’s expectations.

But he really doesn’t need to.

I’d rather have him take 10 deliveries to have a look and then unleash.

Mr 360 doesn’t need to convince us of his supernatural batting powers.

Heinz Schenk.

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