With the disappointment of the 2-1 Sunfoil test series loss behind him, Proteas captain AB de Villiers has placed renewed energy and focus on the upcoming five-match Momentum one-day international (ODI) series against England starting at the Mangaung Oval on Wednesday.
Barring the injuries this series, the ODI squad has been a settled unit since the ICC Cricket World Cup, stability which has reflected in their results this past year.
In 2015 alone, the Proteas scored four totals above 400, the most by any international team, success which was based on the solid contributions from the batsmen.
“It’s a new challenge and a new series,” De Villiers said in Bloemfontein on Tuesday. “We have to keep that consistency going with us batting really well. One of the reasons that I can think of for our success in ODI cricket is that we have had the same top seven for a long time, it’s been the same names for a few series’ in a row, actually since the World Cup.”
“We have had the same names operating so it’s about confidence. With the test team there have been quite a few names coming in and out of the team, we are still finding out feet there, there is a bit of a rebuilding phase with the test side.”
The captain is the only player in both squads to have featured in the last match between the two nations at the Mangaung Oval, a tied encounter in 2005. Since then, the Proteas have had an impressive record at the Bloemfontein venue, winning their last six matches on the trot.
“We haven’t played each other in a while,” De Villiers said of his opponents. “We have enough footage of all their players to know more or less what to expect and I’m sure they have footage of us as well.”
“There won’t be any surprises with regards to the new players in each side. You have to find your feet as early as possible in a series like this. We will try to adapt as quickly as possible tomorrow to get some early momentum going.
“We love coming here,” he said of Bloemfontein. “We feel there isn’t a lot of noise around here, you can always focus on the cricket, train well and connect as a team. We have a good record here at Bloemfontein so it’s a great feeling coming back here.”
De Villiers is not reading too much into his recent form with the bat, and says the change in format is an opportunity to start afresh and to ‘find his feet’ again.
“I’ve always taken a new series as a new challenge, we are starting from zero again,” he explained. “No matter who you are and no matter where you play you are always trying to find your feet.”
“I scored a hundred in my last ODI but even then I still feel like I have to find my feet , get myself in, every game that I play I’m like that. Even in the IPL, we play 16 matches in no time, I always feel that no matter what good form I am in I always have to work hard to get myself in, I will have the same mindset again.”