AB DE VILLIERS admits South Africa are finding it difficult to match their global Test stature in Twenty20 cricket because of the limited amount of time they spend together and constant squad rotation in the short format.
The Proteas’ one-dayer captain was speaking in Durban on Wednesday where the team was preparing for the first of two Twenty20 internationals against Pakistan starting on Friday.
South Africa are ranked No1 in the world in the five-day game, while they sit fifth in 20-over cricket, one place above the tourists, whom they whitewashed 3-0 in the Test series, and are placed fourth on the ICC’s 50-over table. "What’s happened in the Test squad shows you that if you have a bunch of players together for such a long time, guys coming in just sort of fall into the system straight away," De Villiers said on Wednesday.
"Everyone knows exactly what’s going on. That’s something we’re still working towards in the one-day internationals and Twenty20 setup. I wouldn’t say we’re very far off, but if we have a bit of consistency in selection over the next 12 to 24 months. I truly believe the results will start to show."
The national selectors rested key players during the recent Twenty20 series, opting to reward promising players on the domestic scene.
"It is a nice way of giving youngsters a chance to showcase their talents," De Villiers said.
"I definitely see why that’s happening. They’re also the guys who do perform domestically and probably are the best Twenty20 players in the team at the moment. But as we haven’t played a lot together it makes it tough that we change around a lot. There’s no proper feeling for each other yet, but we’re getting there."
The 29-year-old, a veteran of 44 Twenty20 internationals, at an average of 22.34 with the bat, also conceded that his own form was suffering due to the lack of consistently playing the format.
"I haven’t really found my rhythm yet in Twenty20 cricket internationally. I’m still finding my way, where exactly I’ve got to bat. I mean, I’m a finisher in the middle order, top three maybe. I feel we haven’t played a lot of Twenty20 cricket.
"It’s difficult to find your way because you just play one or two in a series, three to four months down the line you play another one, then another two, so you can’t get going," De Villiers said.
"I don’t find adapting to the format or any one of the three difficult, but into your rhythm and scoring a lot of runs is quite hard."
De Villiers, who revealed he may keep wicket in the series, also warned that Pakistan would provide a different challenge in the Twenty20 game.
"They are definitely a better team when it comes to the shorter versions," he said.
"They’ve showed that over many years now. They used to be quite inconsistent, but they’ve shown over the last two years that they can be a lot more consistent.
"I think it’s going to be a great series and a great way for us to challenge ourselves going forward."