As a player I always tried to do my talking with the ball, and I never paid too much attention to what the media had to say about me. Now I’m in their camp and it’s been interesting sitting in the commentators box and trying to work out exactly what is going on down on the field.
As I have no inside information about what’s going on inside the change room, it is of course impossible to know the truth of what’s being said and as commentators we can only speculate on the basis of the results of the team and the quality of the cricket played.
On that score, I think the captaincy of AB de Villiers has played a big role in the team being able to clinch the Series with two matches still to go.
There was a noticeable new spirit in the side and a will to win that blew the opposition away in the first two games, and then allowed the team to come through a tough contest in the third to clinch a narrow win.
Being a commentator has made me focus on certain things while watching a game and one thing I have noticed is that AB has clearly decided to get the message out that he is his own man and that he will be running the team his way. He has been firm in his decision-making, and there has not been much sign of him asking for advice from the other senior players before ringing changes on the field. The result, I believe, is that there has been a breath of fresh air in the team. There seems to be an intention to give everyone a fair chance to prove themselves, and the players have responded positively. This can be seen in two things in particular: in the way he has used the bowlers, and in the way he has shuffled the batting order.
In Paarl, for example, the opening spells of Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel were just two or three overs long. Lonwabo Tsotsobe was then given an extended spell of five overs, and he responded to the confidence shown in him by turning in one of his best performances in years.
In East London JP Duminy was given an opportunity to bat higher in the order and he made full use of the chance to make 66 not out and help the side chase down what was quite a big score.
In Bloemfontein, De Villiers dropped himself down the batting order, allowing Faf Du Plessis a chance to bat higher up and he showed that he is capable of transferring his excellent domestic form into the international arena.
The encouraging thing in all this, for me, is that it has allowed players who are not the usual suspects to play a leading role. Sure, Hashim Amla was great, and Morne Morkel has bowled better in the one-dayers than he did in the Test series, but the performance of players who have been on the sidelines until now showed that we have plenty of depth in the squad. I’m hoping they give some of the other players in the squad who have not featured so far a chance now. It would be good for spirit and will build experience in the bigger group of players. That, for me, is more important than going for a whitewash in the series.
My Powerade Chosen One is Faf du Plessis. Just when people were beginning to wonder what he was doing there he stood up and showed he belongs in the team.