Sport / Cricket

Heinz Schenk
2 minute read
24 Jan 2017
2:16 pm

AB de Villiers won’t be a T20 opener at Newlands

Heinz Schenk

But Proteas T20 skipper Farhaan Behardien nonetheless wants him to bat "high up" to score as much runs as possible.

AB de Villiers makes hi return to international cricket at Newlands on Wednesday evening. Photo: Grant Pitcher/Gallo Images.

The Proteas have seemingly ditched the idea of AB de Villiers being an opener in T20 cricket.

South Africa’s one-day skipper, who will play his first international match since June last year in Wednesday’s final T20 against Sri Lanka at Newlands, was previously considered a “unique weapon” in that role.

In fact, that thought caused so much confusion last season that the Proteas only decided on their opening pair on the eve of their first World T20 game against England in Mumbai.

Also read: Red-hot Lungi Ngidi plays himself into Proteas ODI squad

But there won’t be any of these hassles in the Mother City.

“AB will definitely bat high in the order,” Farhaan Behardien, the Proteas captain, said on Tuesday after the side’s training session.

“I think we’re possibly looking at him coming in at No 3. It’s in keeping with our strategy of giving our best batsmen the maximum time at the crease. David Miller was also bat early, we want him to face as many balls as possible.

“If you get these guys to bat 50 or 60 balls, you’ll reach 200.”

Perhaps more importantly, De Villiers is another experienced voice that Behardien can listen to in a decidedly new-looking squad.

Wednesday’s match is a decider, with the series locked at 1-1.

“I’m definitely happy having him back,” said Behardien.

“He’s one of the best batters in the modern era. He’s an experienced leader and he’s hungry to play again after his injury. It’s a good guy to unleash.”

Yet even if De Villiers wasn’t present, the Proteas still back themselves to seal a series win despite the relative pressure of a must-win game.

“The interesting thing about our squad is that there are quite a few established players present,” said Behardien.

“They might be rookies in terms of international experience but they know their games. Jon-Jon Smuts and Aaron Phangiso are captains for their franchise teams, while a guy like Heino Kuhn has played top-flight cricket for more than a decade.

“There are a lot of leaders in this group. We’re keen to atone for the loss at the Wanderers.”

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