JOHANNESBURG: Former South African paceman Fanie de Villiers feels that either Hashim Amla or AB de Villiers should succeed Graeme Smith as the national cricket team's captain.
Citing that the only criteria for the new captain should be that he has to be popular with cricket fans, De Villiers told the Afrikaans weekly Rapport that both Amla and AB fulfil this condition.
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"If people do not love him, you can forget about it. That's why I believe that AB de Villiers and Hashim Amla are the only two candidates," he told Rapport.
"Stick your pride in your pocket and learn from guys who know what they are talking about. There is enough talent in this country to make South Africa a world power in cricket," De Villiers suggested Cricket South Africa (CSA).
De Villiers said even Shaun Pollock had acknowledged that he had learnt more about the game in the two years since stepping down than he had in all his years of playing for the Proteas.
He also called on CSA involve lots of experts in the post-mortem of the Proteas' failure after they were ousted against all odds by underdogs New Zealand in the quarterfinals.
"I'm not trying to be too clever," De Villiers said as he explained that there were not enough all-rounders in the team on the subcontinent.
"I said long before the time that you can't play a World Cup on the subcontinent with a bunch of specialists. We lost this World Cup not because we were bad. We lost it because we had the wrong side there," De Villiers said even as the country continued to fume about analysing the loss in the absence of Graeme Smith.
Smith went straight to Ireland from India to get engaged to pop singer Morgan Deane and then back to India to play in the IPL.
Meanwhile, former captain Clive Rice was also scathing in his attack of Smith's attitude in leaving his teammates to explain their defeat, accusing the captain who led his last game in India of "climbing the first, best rescue boat and leaving his team mates on the sinking ship".
"I hope he never gets selected for South Africa again. That's not what a captain does - and it's no wonder so many people have little or no respect for him," Rice told Rapport.
The tensions around Smith's failure to return with the team were further highlighted with a short, terse statement released by CSA on Wednesday.
"CEO Gerald Majola on Wednesday emphatically denied a newspaper report that he had given Proteas' captain Graeme Smith permission to stay behind in India at the end of South Africa's ICC Cricket World Cup campaign", said the statement.
"At no stage did I discuss the matter with Graeme," commented Majola.
"The matter was dealt with by senior team management," he added.