Johannesburg, June 12: As a fresher in the mighty South African side, A B de Villiers might not have aspired to one day turn skipper. But now that the honour and distinction has been thrust on him he is ready to sacrifice everything to justify his new role.
de Villiers has taken over from Graeme Smith, who stepped down as the ODI and Twenty20 captain after the World Cup debacle, and will be Smith's second in Tests.
In an interview with Reuters, de Villiers conceded that while he didn't enjoy his stint as captain in school, those doubts were now behind him. "I captained my team at school (Afrikaans High School, Pretoria) for a few games but I didn't enjoy it so much," De Villiers said. "I was more focussed on my batting then and playing other sports like rugby."
So what accounts for this transformation? "Captaining South Africa was definitely not one of my goals," de Villiers said, "but I started believing I could do it when Graeme Smith said I had a lot of leadership qualities. He said I should take more responsibility, act more like a leader and talk more in team meetings."
"Henning Gericke [mental conditioning coach] and Corrie van Zyl [South Africa coach until the World Cup] said I could be a captain if I wanted to be one. That's when I started to believe."
de Villiers termed his predecessor Smith as "the best captain" he has played under and said he was eager to make his captaincy work. "I truly believe I have qualities as a captain and I have to make up my own mind - captain the team my way, not how Hansie or Graeme did it. As a captain, I can't make the same mistake twice. As a player, you can get away with that, but if the captain does that then it affects the whole team."
He also said he respected the "passion, pride and fighting spirit", that Gary Kirsten, South Africa's newly-appointed national coach, demonstrated during his playing days. "I think we'll complement each other a lot, Gary's just a wonderful coach and a top-class human being."
de Villiers has notched up the numbers to warrant his new posting - he has played 66 Tests, 119 ODIs and 33 Twenty20 games for South Africa. He also dons the gloves behind the wickets in the limited overs format.
The premier batsman said one of his main objectives as captain would be to help South Africa overcome its history of failing to succeed in multi-team tournaments. "Obviously, we have a history of not performing well in big events. We didn't play badly overall, but went down when the pressure was on us again.
"But there's a fresh look in the side now, which is good, and then it's up to the leaders to work together with trust. But it's an unbelievable responsibility," he concluded.