EVEN if South Africa had succeeded at the World T20 in Sri Lanka, the position of AB de Villiers in the national set-up is something the national management surely needs to reconsider.
After the intensity of the England tour, on which the Proteas excelled, De Villiers was clearly a jaded man by the time he reached Sri Lanka and it showed in some of his cricket and in his decision-making. In the frenetic arena of T20 cricket, there is no room for even the tiniest error and the captain's focus needs to be uncluttered by extra responsibilities. It is to De Villiers's detriment that his supreme ability has thrust him into three leading roles and it is probably time for coach Gary Kirsten to decide what is the best way to utilise one of his most talented assets.
De Villiers is not playing in the Champions League, ostensibly due to injury, but it must be clear to all that the Proteas limited overs captain is in serious need of a break from the game.
The issue revolves mainly around his position as the team's wicketkeeper following the injury to Mark Boucher earlier this year.
For all Boucher's undoubted value to the side, the selection of De Villiers as the gloveman for the test series against England allowed South Africa the luxury of fielding an extra specialist batsman, providing greater security in that department.
When it comes to the limited overs gameplan, however, Kirsten will need to give serious consideration to easing the load on De Villiers. The skilful righthander is one of the world's best batsmen and can become a true great if he is given more time to concentrate on that area.
The necessity of an extra specialist batsman is not as acute in limited overs cricket as opposed to the five-day format and it would surely be in South Africa's best interests to try to get the best out of De Villiers as opposed to overloading him with tasks.
The national selectors need to identify the next wicketkeeper on the list – Thami Tsolekile must have the inside track on that – and begin making plans to include him in the limited overs scenario.
Overloading De Villiers will only be counter-productive to what the team is trying to achieve and the sooner the authorities move in this direction the better.
Players like the Warriors' Davy Jacobs, Dane Vilas (Cobras) and the Dolphins' Daryn Smit are all contenders for the limited overs games, but then Kirsten will first have to come to terms with lessening the load on De Villiers.
If the coach does not see it that way, it will be interesting to track the magnitude of De Villiers's contribution over the next few seasons.
The player, himself, will never back down. It is up to the coach to say "enough".