AB de Villiers has joined a chorus of observers who aren’t quite sure what to expect from the Proteas at this year’s World Cup.
South Africa’s build-up to the tournament has been characterised by experimentation, especially in the all-rounder position, and it seems as if coach Ottis Gibson isn’t much closer to sorting out the balance of his best XI.
They go into the final ODI against Sri Lanka at Newlands on Saturday with the chance of claiming a 5-0 series whitewash though, which is undeniably a happy development.
“The Proteas are certainly in the running, but I won’t say they’re the favourites to be honest with you,” De Villiers told Sport24.
“India and England are looking strong, Australia have won five World Cups in the past and Pakistan claimed the Champions Trophy in the UK two years ago. Those four teams are probably the favourites, but the way the Proteas have been playing in the 50-over format of late has been encouraging.”
Without explicitly stating it, the legendary batsman, who retired from international cricket in mid-2018, suggests South Africa’s line-up’s parts is still greater than the whole.
“Some of South Africa’s batsmen and bowlers are ranked within the top 10 in the world, so of course we have a chance. However, to say that the Proteas are favourites would be difficult,” said De Villiers.
“The World Cup is a tough tournament. I have played in three of them and it’s never easy. You always feel like you’ve got a good squad, but once the tournament starts you very quickly understand that there are a lot of teams that are there to win it and have the ability to do so.”
Naturally, many still believe the Proteas’ chances in England would’ve been far higher had De Villiers still been present.
But he still isn’t having doubts over his decision.
“I have no regrets. I understand there were some emotions from the public when I retired, but ultimately I had to be true to myself and what I felt 10 months back. It was time to move on.”