Image courtesy of: ESPNcricinfo
Even though he was “disappointed” about not being named South Africa’s new Test captain, wicketkeeper-batsman AB de Villiers has pledged his allegiance to team-mate Hashim Amla, who was bestowed with the honour of leading the Proteas’ Test team.
The position of Test captain became available when Graeme Smith announced his retirement following South Africa’s 2-1 loss to Australia in March.
De Villiers was considered to be the frontrunner for the job as Amla had refrained from and given up leadership positions in the past.
“I will not beat around the bush. I’m disappointed that I’m not the captain,” de Villiers told the Afrikaans newspaper Beeld. “Everyone has dreams and ambitions and hopes they will become reality but I accept the situation and will not let it come between me and Hashim. It would be very stupid of me if I let it affect my game and my role in the team. The choice is made. I wish Hashim all the best and will give him all of my support.”
De Villiers also noted that he was looking forward to being Amla’s second in command and the pair will now be looking to regain their number one Test team ranking, which was taken away from them after their defeat to Australia in March.
“As vice-captain of the team I will closely work with Hashim and believe we can make a good combination,” de Villiers said. “I accept that it is not always moonshine and roses and you can’t expect things must always go your way. In the end, we are all working together in the best interests of South African cricket. I believe Hashim will make a success of the assignment. He is a very experienced and senior player and is a fine student of the game. We will all pull in the right direction do to make sure our cricket comes out on top again.”
South Africa’s convener of selectors, Andrew Hudson, revealed that Amla was named captain after a group of senior players placed their trust in him.
“Processes were followed. We’ve spoken to the guys who were close and that little group of senior players are all supportive of Hashim,” Hudson said. “We said to the guys ‘This is what’s coming’ and the guys said they were behind it 100%. There’s this group of senior players – Dale (Steyn), Morne (Morkel), Faf (du Plessis), AB, JP (Duminy) – that are behind Hashim and they respect him. He hasn’t just got two or three guys that support him, he has got a core.”
Hudson added that the national selectors looked past the fact that Amla had given up being vice-captain of South Africa’s limited overs squads.
“It was about trying to get his batting right. Hashim is quite intentional. His intention was to get his batting right and he felt that was first port of call,” Hudson said. “Now that he is at that point where he is more comfortable than what he was with his batting, he feels he can contribute in other areas. Captaincy is one where he can leave a deposit that will far outlast the runs that he scores. He can influence youngsters and he is good with people.”
Hudson also dismissed rumours that there was political pressure involved in appointing South Africa’s first captain of colour.
“It’s great that we’ve got a player of colour as a captain but it wasn’t the reason why we chose him,” he said. “We chose him on merit and in terms of his ability and on what we think the team needs in this next era.”