Auckland: AB de Villiers, the South Africa limited-overs captain, has said the team has started to respond to his style of captaincy, as was evident from South Africa's 3-0 trouncing of New Zealand in the one-day series. de Villiers took over the ODI captaincy from Graeme Smith, who is still the Test captain, after the 2011 World Cup, and has led the side to six victories in eight games.
"I like to think that I have my own style of captaincy that's a bit different to Biff's [Smith's]," de Villiers said after South Africa won the third ODI, in Auckland. "I still believe he is an unbelievable captain, but hopefully my style is taking off a bit and the team is getting used to how I do things."
De Villiers also said he believed the ODI team was as good as the Test side despite being less experienced. "I wouldn't say our best format is Tests. Our limited-overs side is less experienced but it's got good energy and is improving quickly. The Test side is a settled side with street-smart cricketers. Both sides are strong in different areas but both try to play a similar brand and quality of cricket."
South Africa now play three Tests against New Zealand, with the first starting on March 7, and de Villiers said that Smith and Jacques Kallis, who both missed the third ODI due to niggles, would be ready for the Tests. Kallis pulled out on the morning of the third ODI, forcing South Africa to make three changes to their XI and open the batting with fast bowler Wayne Parnell; but de Villiers joked that Kallis was just getting on in years and would recover for the Tests.
"It was a little all over this place this morning when Jacquesy pulled out," de Villiers said. "He had a very stiff back and could hardly move. So we were caught offside a bit. But the younger guys - like Marchant and Wayne Parnell, who hasn't played a lot on this tour - came in and performed impressively.
"Jacque should be fine for the Test. He's just getting a bit older. The mattress he slept on probably wasn't to his liking and gave him a stiff back. I, like Jacques, suffer from back spasms, so I know that the mattress can play a big role. Sometimes I can hardly get up.
"Jacques has always had a bit of an issue with his back. He bowled a lot in the first two games, probably more than I had originally planned, so it's not such a bad thing to rest him and keep him fresh for the Tests."
Smith suffered a blow on the arm before the first ODI and though he played in that game, he sat out the next two. de Villiers said it was just a precautionary move to leave him out. "Graeme will be ready for the Tests, I'm 100% sure of that. His arm is still sore. We waited till this morning and it wasn't feeling so good, so we decided that him being captain for the Tests, and with this series already won, he would be better off resting for the Tests."
New Zealand's batsmen have been troubled by the bounce some of South Africa's tall bowlers have got. The 6'5'' Morne Morkel took a five-wicket haul in the second ODI, and his replacement for the third game, the 6'3'' Marchant de Lange, bagged four wickets on ODI debut. de Villiers said there was no specific plan to bounce out New Zealand's batsmen.
"I don't think we are really focussed on using bounce as a weapon. Some of our bowlers are naturally tall, like Marchant and Morne, so they do get a bit of extra bounce. I personally have trouble facing our bowlers in the nets sometimes, so it's a natural skill they have. We will just be focussed on the basics and hitting the right areas with good pace. We've got variety in our bowling attack so I'm sure the wickets will come."