TELFORD VICE, Cape Town
SOUTH Africa surged to victory in their one-day series against Sri Lanka at the Wanderers on Saturday, but AB de Villiers was focused on a bigger picture than that.
“There were too many 3-2 (series scores) in the past and we’ve had too many opportunities to win series 5-0 and 4-0,” De Villiers said after his team strolled to a seven-wicket win with 18 overs to spare to go 3-0 up in the five-match rubber.
“We are all a bit sick and tired of not taking our opportunities and we are sitting here with another opportunity.
“We try to be clinical about every game we play with a bit more emphasis and importance on getting results in every single game we play and not just trying to win a series.”
Having stuck his neck out in no uncertain terms, South Africa’s captain then remembered to wind it back in: “I don’t want to mention it too often and I don’t want to make it our main thing that we play for 5-0 whitewashes, because that can backfire quickly.”
But De Villiers had made his point – don’t just win, win as well as you can.
Not that South Africa haven’t done so recently.
They have won seven of their last nine series across all formats, and there have been whitewashes among those successes: the T20s against England last February, the ODIs against Australia in October, and the tests against the Lankans in December and January.
And now this, the chance to blank Sri Lanka again in what is already South Africa’s sixth consecutive victory in an ODI series at home.
So De Villiers will be forgiven a twitch of tetchiness when questions at the press conference after Saturday’s game tarried a touch too long on the vast swarm of bees that settled at the stadium, holding up play for an hour.
“Guys, we are talking about bees,” De Villiers said. “It was annoying break. That’s all I can say.”
But, for Niroshan Dickwella, the Sri Lankan opener whose 74 was the highest score in the match, the bees were a handy excuse: “Our momentum was taken away by that break.”
Buzz off, Mr Dickwella. There’s no sting in that tale.