AB de Villiers on Cricket World Cup: Proteas in the running, but not favourites

Cape Town - Former Proteas captain AB de Villiers says the team will not enter the upcoming Cricket World Cup as favourites.

De Villiers, who retired from international cricket in May last year, spoke exclusively to Sport24 this week when he shared his thoughts on the showpiece event in England.

"The World Cup is a tough tournament. I have played in three of them and it’s never easy. You always feel like you've got a good squad, but once the tournament starts you very quickly understand that there are a lot of teams that are there to win it and have the ability to do so. Playing at a World Cup is as high pressure as you can get and tournament cricket is pretty intense," De Villiers said.

"I do believe South Africa have a chance, like we did at any other World Cup, because we are a world-class team with plenty of match-winners. The Proteas are certainly in the running, but I won’t say they are the favourites to be honest with you. India and England are looking strong, Australia have won five World Cups in the past and Pakistan claimed the Champions Trophy in the UK two years ago. Those four teams are probably the favourites, but the way the Proteas have been playing in the 50-over format of late has been encouraging."

The Proteas have never won the Cricket World Cup in seven attempts and lost to New Zealand at the semi-final stage at the 2015 edition, when De Villiers was captain.

He added: "Some of South Africa's batsmen and bowlers are ranked within the top 10 in the world, so of course we have a chance. However, to say that the Proteas are favourites would be difficult... If South Africa win the Cricket World Cup, I don’t think we will be able to compare it to the 1995 Rugby World Cup triumph, which united the nation. However, it will definitely have a huge impact on our country. Things aren’t easy in South Africa and haven’t been for a while now, but winning a major sporting event could definitely help in getting things back on track."