AB de Villiers believes he has developed the captaincy foresight that made Brendon McCullum a great leader for New Zealand.
With his team on the verge of clinching the five-match series against the Black Caps, de Villiers says it is his captaincy, rather than his brilliant batting, which is giving him most pleasure.
The 33-year-old, regarded by many as the world’s greatest ever ODI batsman, has played important knocks in often-trying conditions to help his team to a 2-1 series lead. He has been dismissed twice in scoring 167 off 163 balls.
The runs are secondary to de Villiers, who wants his team to wrap up the series with a game to spare in Hamilton on Wednesday.
“I just love to contribute and to see the joy in my team-mates’ faces after I’ve done something good,” he said.
“I’m enjoying it now more than ever. I feel I have a good understanding of the game, a good gut feel of what’s coming and what’s going to happen.
“A guy like McCullum does that really well, he sees what’s going to happen in 10 overs’ time. That’s important for a captain.”
Unlike retired skipper McCullum, who took unbridled confidence to the crease, de Villiers says he is nervous every time he goes out to bat for his country.
Having made himself unavailable for the Test series in March, he will place pressure on himself to finish his tour on a high this week.
“There’s always doubts when you walk out, no matter what your record is. That’s pretty normal, pretty human,” he said.
“Obviously over the years I’ve learned how to counter that, how to get over that obstacle.
“It comes through learning from your mistakes and a deep, deep hunger to succeed.”
New Zealand captain Kane Williamson is an unabashed admirer of his counterpart.
He shares a good relationship with the affable de Villiers off the field but senses his determination on it.
“He always plays for the right reasons, to win games of cricket for his country as opposed to playing for his own stats.
“When you play people like that, and there’s not many in the world who have the skill and the attitude, then they’re a big threat.”