Daryll Cullinan: “AB should not be captain yet”

Former South African star batsman, Daryll Cullinan, had a few interesting points to make about the Proteas’ exit from last week’s World Twenty20 in Sri Lanka, won by the West Indies. Having recently left the commentary box due to lifestyle reasons, he runs his own cricket academy in Johannesburg. He also informed me that Clive Rice’s pronunciation of his surname as “Cah-linnin” was indeed correct. I cringed every time Rice said it, but none more so than when the man himself told me Rice was right…

What went wrong for the Proteas in the World Twenty20?

Tactically we weren’t as good as we could be, but quite frankly we weren’t good enough. Under those conditions we didn’t have the batting depth, we had a few guys out of form, one or two of the young guys were exposed, and the use of AB de Villiers and Albie Morkel down the order was a bit strange. 20/20 cricket is about boundaries and we didn’t play that way. Bowling-wise I think we lacked a third quality spinner, someone who could offer something different. Our fast bowlers also lacked the ability to bowl well at the end of the innings. Summing up, we didn’t have what was required nor the players to win well on those surfaces.

What did you think of the controversial format of the World Twenty20?

It’s tough to squeeze it into two weeks, so you’re not going to please everybody as you don’t want a dragged-out tournament. One thing that is evident is that it’s not so much a hit-and-miss affair anymore, the guys are becoming more skilful. Funnily enough, the right teams came through, namely the teams with the best squads for those conditions. There was no outsider coming from nowhere and getting to the semi-finals, so what more can we ask for?

Do you think AB de Villiers should be captain in the shorter formats?

To be honest, I wasn’t a supporter of him becoming captain. I thought it was premature, however, I have been a big advocate of him keeping wicket, especially in Tests, where it’s given us options, and we all saw how well the Test team performed in England. I’ve been saying for the last two to three years that he should be ‘keeper, which hasn’t always been popular, given how great Mark Boucher has been over the years. But the responsibilities of keeping, captaining and being our best one-day batsman has shown itself up in this tournament. I have captained in 20/20 games before and it is a very fast-paced game, and you need ears and eyes around you. Things can go wrong very quickly, and you don’t have time to consult and deliberate and one has to think on your feet. I thought Johan Botha should have led us in this transition period, but be that as it may, let’s hope AB has learnt from it.

Cullinan heads off the field in Auckland in 1999 after making South Africa’s highest Test score at the time, 275*

Is Gary Kirsten the right man to be the coach?

He can be, but Gary is relatively new to coaching. He walked into an India side that was very well-established. But the players will believe a lot more in Gary as he has been there and done that, along with Allan (Donald). We don’t know what goes on in the team nor the selection policy, so we can only speculate from the outside. If he can’t do it, who the hell will? All the boxes are ticked and everything is in place.

A lot has been said about the Aussies’ exciting new pace attack. What will happen in the upcoming series?

It was always going to be a good series. Australia is an emerging side, although they do lack a few quality, experienced batsmen, and they’ve had some injury problems with their young quicks. They’re always going to be competitive, so they will be confident they can take it to South Africa, but by the same token we are a very good Test side. We’re experienced enough and we have a very good top six that can handle whatever the Australian pace attack can throw at us.

Cullinan certainly wasn’t laughing when facing Shane Warne

When last did you speak to Shane Warne?

It was probably a while back, but your guess is as good as mine! Why don’t you ask Liz Hurley? They seem to conduct their lives and relationship on Twitter for all the world to see.

Did you really tell him he’d spent two years eating?

That was quite a funny story that. No, I didn’t. At the time I was batting with Gary Kirsten and Warne made the remark (“I’ve been waiting two years to humiliate you, Daryll”) and somehow through a column from Manners (Neil Manthorp), who was ghost writing for him at the time, it got mentioned that I said he’d been eating for that long and it stuck. I’m quite happy to claim it, though! I lost the battle in Test cricket with him, but people forget that I had a good record against him in one-day cricket, even in Australia.

Herschelle Gibbs had a few words to say about you in his book. When is your book due?

I’ve had requests to do books, but they’re not very lucrative and invariably publishers want you to mention all the controversial stuff. A lot of guys in all sports write books as they see it as their opportunity to slag someone off or get something off their chest, which is quite cowardly. If your career is over, and you don’t have anything good to say, don’t do a book, especially if you wouldn’t say those things during your career.

This article originally appeared on The South African in 2012.

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