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Winning this tournament is very important: De Villiers

The South Africa captain says he will try to keep things as simple as possible, and take it one game at a time

Winning this tournament is very important: De Villiers - Cricket News
Despite the absence of Graeme Smith and Jacques Kallis, De Villiers remained confident.
You guys were in Holland a week before, unlike the other teams. Did it go well and did you get everything you wanted to get out of it?
It went very well, thanks. Yeah, when we arrived there, the weather was quite bad and we were very worried about the preparation we were going to get in, but it actually turned out to be a great week for us. We had a nice run‑in with Mike Horne, a very good fitness day and basically saw the whole of Amsterdam on bicycle and rowing and on foot. It was a great experience, and we learned a lot from him.

Then we got in all the net sessions in that we wanted to, really good wickets. They prepared us, Steve Rouse, you guys would know him. He's a very good groundsman, and he really prepared the ground and the nets really well for us. So we had a few good net sessions and a very good warm‑up game against Holland where all the batters had a nice hit, all guys that hadn't played for a wall.

And also had the opportunity to give our part‑timers a good bowl. A guy like Phangiso and JP had a good bowl in, and all the other guys had a good bowl in.

So very happy in the preparation. We're in good space team spirit‑wise, and batting and bowling and fielding‑wise we're all in a very good space, so we're looking forward to the week ahead.
A few of the regulars on this team are missing from this tournament which opened up a lot of spots in the batting order. What are your reactions to these positions opening up?
I see it as an opportunity. I think there is a very good energy in the team. Graeme and Jacques will be missed experience‑wise. They've played for a long time. But I like to look at things in a positive way. There is a lot of energy coming in a guy like David Miller who came in because of that. We saw him in many games in the IPL, and he brings a lot of confidence to the team. To have an added number six or seven in our batting lineup to know that we can win a game from anywhere is great.

And, obviously, Alviro Petersen comes in with a lot of experience. He had a very good season back home for the Lions and for the South African District. He's shown before in the shorter division that he can play the game really well. It's great to have his experience. And his energy in the field, he's a very good fielder and very good thinker of the game as well. It's nice to have those two guys on the team.

So I look at it from a positive perspective, and I feel we have a great energy and great mix on the team.

Very confident going into this tournament. We know we have a good chance and we're just going to free up those wings and give it a good shot.
How good was Duminy to come back like that?
We all know what he's capable of. I'd be lying to you if I said I had full confidence that he'd come back like that, so he surprised us a little bit. But the vehemency and the kind of confidence and the cricketing brain he brings to the party and this team is irreplaceable, so it's great to have him back, and to have him back in full form like that is a bonus.
Yeah, so I'm looking forward to seeing him perform in this tournament.

According to the warm‑ups and the results it seems like everything went well. But what other considerations might the team need to iron out before tomorrow's warm‑up game?
There aren't a lot of concerns. I'm very positive about what's lying ahead. I feel it's going to be a good warm‑up game for us against great opposition that we've played against not too long ago.

It's just the conditions. Just to get a little bit more used to it. I think it's probably the one area we'd like to explore a bit tomorrow. Other than that it's just making sure we let that engine run and get ‑‑ yeah, just give everyone a go tomorrow and probably be playing as close as possible to the level that will be starting the tournament, and just a little more confidence would be great. That's basically all.
How important is winning this tournament?
It's very important. Every game we play is important to us. We represent a very proud cricketing nation, and we'd like to make them proud in this tournament. But all our focus will be with the warm‑up game now and leading up to the first game against India.

But for now we wouldn't like to look too far ahead even though we would like to win the tournament, and I have full confidence that we're going to do so, but we've got to take it one step at a time. Everyone will probably be touching on that. All the captain's will be saying we're going to be taking it one step at a time.

But it is what's important right now is our warm‑up game. In fact our nets today will be important. It is our first netting in England and we'll take it from there.
You played Pakistan in the home seed in the warm‑up game and they're in your group. Is it ideal to a play a team you know so well?
It is. It's ideal to play against a team that is one of the best teams in the world right now, so it's a perfect preparation for us. I've got a good, balanced team. We'll be facing good seam bowling, good spin bowling. We'll be bowling to some of the best batters in the world. So it's really the perfect opposition to play against leading up to a tournament like this.
It's a well‑rounded team. The only relative weakness would be spin. Do you think the spin factor will come into play here?
There are obviously some very good spin bowlers around on all the teams. I believe Robin is a very good spin bowler as well. He's been around a long time. He's actually surprised a lot of people in the last few years with the amount of wickets he's taken. He's a wicket taker for us, so that always makes him a dangerous bowler.

He and Wright is one of the best in the world. It's great to have him on our team. We also have JP as a part‑time bowler who has also surprised a few people in the past, so it's great to have the best two guys on this side. And probably will start as a sub Aaron Phangiso who has impressed a few guys in the past as well. So we have a few good spin bowlers.

I don't think it's an area of weakness. It's just a matter of me finding the right time for them to have the biggest impact on the game.
You've had a bit of experience with the new ODI rules. What do you make of them?
I think it's made the game quite exciting. The rules didn't change too much. It's all within I'd say comfort zones for all of us. We really adapted it really easily. Yeah, we're used to it by now. We're ready to go. I especially enjoy the two‑bounce rule that came in, and we've got a few strategies around that. We'll be trying to get a few wickets when it comes to that.
I know these are warm‑up games and you talk about conditions. But let's look at the venue of the second game, and for the warm‑up against Sri Lanka and India is looks very treacherous this time of year. So is that something that you look at specifically?
No, not really. If you get a flat wicket, you're very happy about that. That's exactly what we're after. Cricket we want the best team to come out on top. And if you get a very good cricketing wicket, 300‑plus, normally the best team wins those games.

So we'd like a fair battle, and hopefully it will give that to us in the second game. But once again, our focus will be first of all Cardiff and try to face conditions as quickly as possible there.
You haven't played there a lot over the years and with weather being a factor, do you think that will come into play in Cardiff?
Yeah, that's a difficult question, because it might come in then and we'll be prepared for that. That's one thing we learned from Mike Horne is to expect the unexpected, so we'll be definitely prepared for that. But pretty much the weather conditions are pretty much out of your control and out of your hands. We'll just take it as it comes. If there is a rain around, we'll be prepared for it and try to adapt as quickly as possible.
It will be Gary Kirsten's last season as coach of South Africa. He's a special coach, obviously. He led India to No. 1 in Test cricket and South Africa as well. Is the team looking to give him a fitting farewell of sorts?
It would be nice to give him a good farewell. He's been a great coach to us. We've learned a hell of a lot from him in the few years that he's been our coach. He's more like a mentor on the team. I find it funny calling him coach because no one calls him coach. He's almost like one of our friends and a mentor kind of guy that's really managed the team very, very well in the few years.

So he'll be dearly missed. But Russell Domingo takes over after him, and he's also a very capable coach. He knows the system really well now having spent a few years with us, so it's very exciting to see him take Gary's place.
Since you became the captain you average almost 93. Do you really relish the pressure of batting in the captaincy?
I do. I haven't changed much. I actually didn't even know that. I really just try to keep it simple, especially with my batting. When it comes to performance of the team and my own performance, I try to keep it really simple. I work hard at my game, and I just play the situation that I'm confronted with in each game.

The one area where I might think about a bit is my captaincy, and that's kept me quite busy in the last few games that I've captained, so it's very exciting and I'm looking forward to this tournament and making a few good calls for the team.

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