Sport / Cricket

Heinz Schenk
2 minute read
3 Mar 2017
12:36 pm

AB de Villiers’ batting position will decide the ODI series

Heinz Schenk

Should the Proteas skipper be given enough time to bat or should he guide the lower order? It's a head-scratcher for Saturday's decider.

Where should the in-form AB de Villiers bat? Photo: Michael Bradley/AFP.

In what position should AB de Villiers be batting?

The longer the Proteas one-day skipper keeps playing, the more it becomes clear that this question will probably never be answered.

It’s again one of the main talking points going into Saturday’s decider in the ODI series against New Zealand in Auckland.

Also read: Can the Proteas middle order please stand up?

De Villiers has been superb to date, smashing 239 runs in four innings and only being dismissed twice.

However, as Wednesday’s loss in Hamilton illustrated, it’s important to note in what position he made those runs.

De Villiers came in at No 5 and scored an unbeaten 72 off 59 balls.

You should probably marvel at how well he played but instead, one wonders what could’ve happened if he came in at No 4 and had more time?

Faf du Plessis, De Villiers’ deputy in the 50-over side, is well aware of the issue.

“AB normally bats at No 4,” he said.

“Bar one or two games in this series where he’s batted at 5, that’s his position. Normally when he comes in at No 4 and has time to score a century, we’re on the front foot and perhaps even over the line.”

The problem in this series though is that the Proteas batting would’ve sunk without him as he’s been responsible for repairing the damage left by an underperforming top-order.

“When you’re playing on a tougher wicket, it’s probably nice to have his experience at hand,” said Du Plessis.

“It’s valuable having him to guide the rookie all-rounders at the death. They influence each other positively.”

That sums up the dilemma for the Proteas.

Of course, that headache could be relieved if someone like JP Duminy came to the party.

The left-hander, together with David Miller, has not been in great form.

But Du Plessis believes those indiscretions can be forgiven if Duminy delivers in a must-win game.

“JP just needs to go out and play the way we want him to play – with freedom,” he said.

“He’s at his best when he’s encouraged to be dominant. It’s been a dry series for him in terms of converting starts but it’s also promising in a way.”

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