A BATTING WITH BIMAL BREAKING REPORT: My back problems have nothing to do with wicketkeeping, says AB de Villiers

De Villiers believes the media have blown his back issues out of proportion when all he needed was rest

South Africa wicketkeeper AB de Villiers is sick and tired of everyone thinking that his back issues have resurfaced due to him donning the gloves since the England Test series in July.

De Villiers was forced to become the keeper of the national team after Mark Boucher’s illustrious international career was ended due freak eye injury he sustained in a warm-up match against Somerset just before the start of the Test series against England.

De Villiers noted that he has enjoyed his role as the new wicketkeeper of the side and wants to continue doing it, but whether he will be able to is another issue since Thami Tsolekile has been groomed to become the new keeper of the national team for a couple of months now.

South Africa’s team manager and doctor Mohammed Moosajee stated that if the International Cricket Council (ICC) World Twenty20 had not been such an important tournament, de Villiers would have returned home much earlier for treatment.

Moosajee also mentioned that de Villiers’ back issues was caused by “overuse”.

De Villiers has completed a 21-day rehabilitation programme and is now expected to be fully fit in time for the three-Test series against Australia, which starts on November 9 in Brisbane.

“They [the media] have made a massive thing out of it. My back’s not fractured and there are no missing bones. I’ve needed rest, it has been an issue for a long time now. It’s something I’ve got to look after and manage really well for the next few years. I don’t believe the keeping has played a massive part in that. I’ve felt a similar kind of thing with my back when I’m fielding. It’s not really the wicketkeeping. I’ve worked even harder in the field. It has been a few years coming now that this back [problem] has been developing into something serious. That’s why I needed a few weeks at home. I’ve got enough issues with my back to have needed that rest,” de Villiers declared.

Moosajee seems to think that de Villiers’ back issues are due to a combination of two factors, batting and keeping, and as long as de Villiers carries on doing both, the will always be a lingering risk of the injury returning.

One solution that could help de Villiers is to bat lower down the order, but he is already reluctant to do that.

“I don’t believe keeping affects my batting,” de Villiers said blatantly.

However, the statistics speak for themselves, as de Villiers has only averaged 30.33 with the bat while keeping as well, compared to 50.42 when someone else has donned the gloves.

Despite scoring just one half-century as a wicketkeeper in 2004, de Villiers has never been able to reach the next milestone of scoring a century.

To make matters worse, during the England series this summer, de Villiers’ highest score across all three Test matches was just 47.

“In England, I put in the hard yards and I gave myself the opportunity to go big, I just never pushed on from the 40s. I got out a few good deliveries, especially at Lord’s where Steven Finn bowled me a really good ball. It’s almost as if I’m one knock away from people going, ‘Oh, my word – wicketkeeping is doing him so much good’,” de Villiers said.

De Villiers added that he does not mind if his batting is affected since it will benefit the entire squad as a whole.

“I’ve always been big a believer in playing in a successful team. It’s much bigger than the individual. I believe it makes us a stronger side, it gives us a better chance to perform really well if I’m taking the gloves; it opens up a spot. JP [Duminy] did really well with Vernon [Philander] there at seven and eight. It looked like the batting line-up would never end,” de Villiers said.

De Villiers also noted that South Africa’s bond as a team has never been better and he hopes they will use that to their advantage during the upcoming Test series against Australia.

“To have that feeling is something I’ve dreamed of all my life. I felt it in my last year at school when I really felt part of a team, we enjoy each others’ company and each others’ successes,” de Villiers added.

However, de Villiers knows he has to manage his workload properly in order for his back issues not to return.

“The key is to look after my core very well. I’ve got to make sure my abs and core muscles are really strong to look after my back,” de Villiers said.

Meanwhile, Moosajee stated that “decisions would have to be made” in the future, implying that de Villiers may only remain as the national team’s wicketkeeper temporarily, until Tsolekile is completely ready to take over permanently.

“Absolutely, yes, he will. He has proven that over quite a few years in South Africa. He has been a very handy cricketer. He has won games for his provincial sides, it’s nice to have him, with his experience, in the team. There’s no doubt when he gets the opportunity he’ll do well. I think he’s ready,” Moosajee added.

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